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Writing a case study: How-tos, templates, and tips

Find out what a case study is, its components, what makes it tick, and how to write one. Browse our examples, templates, and tips for writing a case study that will make readers want to learn more.
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What is a case study?

A case study is a detailed analysis of a specific topic in a real-world context. It can pertain to a person, place, event, group, or phenomenon, among others. The purpose is to derive generalizations about the topic, as well as other insights.

Case studies find application in academic, business, political, or scientific research. For instance, a case study can focus on a specific illness in the medical field. Meanwhile, in business, it can revolve around a particular company's product or service.

Case study data can be either qualitative, quantitative, or both. These studies are also considered "naturalistic" since the topic is examined in its natural setting.

Sample Case Study Design

Write your next case study with Canva Docs, a visually supercharged writing platform.

Case study vs. research study

While a case study and a research study are both used in the academic realm, researchers approach them differently. The case study is a detailed analysis of a given phenomenon. On the other hand, a research study is a broader exploration of a topic.

Case studies typically use qualitative research methods like documents, observations, and interviews. A research study follows a more standardized structure, and uses more rigorous and systematic research methodologies such as experiments and data analysis.

Because of the specificity of a case study, its findings cannot be easily used for generalizability or applicability to broader contexts. Meanwhile, a research study is intended to be generalizable, and the insights can be related to a more significant population or scope.

Case study vs. white paper

Both case studies and white papers are powerful content materials for marketing and business purposes. They aim to explore and provide insights on specific issues.

A case study is written in narrative form and zooms into the real world. It’s usually shorter in length and takes a shorter time to complete. White papers take a more formal and comprehensive approach — they present a problem, an analysis, and a solution. They are more intensive and technical, requiring a longer time for research and data collection.

Case study vs. meta-analysis

The significant difference between a case study and a meta-analysis is in their respective scopes.

A case study explores a single occurrence and analyzes that specific situation. A meta-analysis, on the other hand, combines results from varying studies. It aims to find patterns and trends, and it statistically compares and draws conclusions based on different sources.

Why is a case study important?

Writing a case study, no matter your industry, can add value to your organization. Although it is a big project, it can be a powerful resource that provides real-world perspectives and examples.

Sample Case Study on the Fashion Industry

An example of a neon orange and pink case study you can make with Canva Docs.

There are different reasons why a case study is valuable, as it does the following:

  • Explains complex concepts: Case studies let you understand complicated topics and how they can be applied in real-world contexts.
  • Collects data: It can be used to track data and gather info. You can then describe and present your findings so that an average reader can easily digest it.
  • Establishes expertise: A case study shows your command of a topic. For businesses, it’s a chance to prove that their products and services are helpful in solving customer problems.
  • Builds trust: A case study is one of the most trusted types of content in marketing. Businesses or organizations who conduct case studies help prove their market value.
  • Multi-purpose content: A case study can serve more than one aim. They can also be repurposed as infographics or abridged blog posts, and quotes can be used for testimonials.

Strengths and weaknesses of a case study

Like any other research method, a case study comes with its own set of benefits and limitations, and researchers often debate these when conducting their study. Each of its strengths and weaknesses shapes the case study in unique ways.



In a case study, there is a strong emphasis on the context of a specific subject. The researcher seeks to deep-dive into the topic and its real-world context, therefore humanizing the issue. A contextual case study analysis considers factors such as environment, culture, and/or history. Thus, it allows for a more nuanced, more informed understanding.

This also bridges the gap between abstract and concrete because researchers can compare their observations with other data they’ve collected.


A case study is comparatively flexible compared to other modes of scientific research. This allows you to adapt your approach based on your research subject and objectives. You also have the room to address issues that suddenly crop up during your study.

In other formats, you can start your case study with a broader question and narrow your focus as you progress.

Holistic exploration

When conducting a case study, you must examine different variables and understand their interrelationships. This allows you to explore the diversity of factors contributing to the case's complexity. It often leads to determining important patterns and relationships that may not have been previously evident.

Sample Case Study of Survey Results

With Canva Docs’ built-in table and chart tools, you can visualize your results to better determine trends from your data.



The case study is often considered the weaker methodology among the others, especially in the social sciences. It is often criticized as being pseudo-scientific or too subjective.

Qualitative research can be a subjective mode of data collection. This can introduce your own personal bias and/or the participants' perspectives, which can significantly affect the interpretation of the data.

Ethical considerations

There are also specific ethical considerations that researchers must be aware of when conducting case studies. A conflict of interest with the funding of the research is one possible factor. The confidentiality of the information and how this affects the case study participants are also potential issues worth noting, especially when dealing with sensitive topics.

High investment

Conducting a case study requires an investment of both time and other resources. This can limit the feasibility of conducting a case study in different research contexts, mainly when it entails extensive data collection and analysis.

Types of case studies

Case studies are used as a research method in various industries. A researcher can choose from multiple case studies, depending on the end goal. Some case studies overlap with each other.

Here are the different types of case study formats:

Comment in a sample Marketing Case Study Doc

Writing a marketing case study? Invite and collaborate with your teammates via comments in real-time.

This is often called a pilot case study, and is a condensed version implemented before large-scale research is done. The primary purpose of this case study is to identify the questions and the possible data measurements before the actual investigation. As the name implies, it goes into the topic using a qualitative methodology in a real-world context.

For example, a researcher can explore the fact that war events are more likely to cause PTSD in war veterans. Once this case study reveals the correlation, large-scale research can be done to identify which specific events lead to PTSD.

The advantage of doing an exploratory case study is having significant flexibility when you can't predict the possible obstacles you might face during the research process. The only caveat with this study is that the initial findings might be too convincing to be released as definite conclusions.

Canva's case studies
Read through our Canva Pro case studies for examples.

Illustrative case studies provide readers with context and familiarity with the situation. It is one of the principal types of qualitative research, wherein it investigates a specific phenomenon or event. It's not focused on testing a hypothesis, but rather describing and illustrating the nature of the situation.

For example, this can be used in a marketing case study to understand the success of a company's new campaign. The researcher can conduct interviews and surveys to collect data and understand the specific campaign's messaging, purpose, and target market.

This kind of case study delves, without a predetermined purpose, into different sources to analyze a specific situation. A critical instance case study is often used to answer cause-and-effect questions, and usually provides unique perspectives on established truths.

To illustrate, a critical instance case study can be conducted on a cybersecurity firm’s security breach. The crucial details of the incident, the major issues, the company's approach, and the outcomes of their actions are then identified. This study emphasizes the significance of implementing proactive security measures and responding appropriately to security challenges.

A cumulative case study collects data from different sources at different times, then summarizes them to offer points of comparison. It also analyzes insights from previous single-case studies to create a broader generalization. Doing so reduces the amount of time and money spent on repetitive research.

For example, this can be done in the social science field to understand the human-environment relationship. The researcher might have to synthesize and assess the generalizations made by different case studies that dissect this topic.

The focus of an intrinsic case study is on the individual. It is often used as a healthcare or psychology case study. This case study aims to better understand the subjects' history and how they deal with their environment.

An intrinsic case study of a female mountaineer who reaches the peak of Mount Everest might seek to understand how her experiences shaped her motivation and how she prepared for the ascent. It also offers a unique insight into her personal life, goals, and purpose.

What to include in a case study?

A case study typically comprises a few key components that work together to provide a deep understanding of the subject matter. A structured and properly formatted case study shows that you thoroughly understand the subject matter.

Depending on your case study's purpose and the kind you are conducting, you may need to personalize or add more parts. For example, suppose you're doing a marketing case study. In that case, you may add an introduction to the company, some supporting visuals, your future plans, and a call to action.

Usually, a case study includes the following:

Case Study Table of Contents

For easier reference, list the parts of your case study into a table of contents at the beginning of your document.

Your case study's title must be clear and concise. This should succinctly show the focus of your research, and your readers should get an idea of the subject matter immediately.

In this part, you will explain the overview of the topic you're researching, its main issues, your methodology, and the results of your study. This gives the readers an idea whether or not the case study is relevant to their interests.

Keep your summary concise. Although this part appears at the beginning of your case study, you should write it after you've completed your research.

Set the scene in your study. Describe the background, add relevant facts, and discuss other vital issues that relate to your case study. Isolate the problems if and when necessary.

This section lets you provide contextual information so the readers can understand the case better.

This articulates the problems or the objectives of the case study you're doing. You can go into specific details of the problem, including its urgency and why it needs to be resolved. Also include the questions that guide your research.

With the evaluation, you assess your study's components, identifying its strengths and weaknesses. It encompasses a thorough analysis of the research design, your data collection methods, and the analytical approaches employed throughout your study. This includes a focused analysis of the collected data and evaluating its quality, relevance, and consistency.

In this part of the study, you discuss the case's resolution. This should also include possible obstacles that could crop up in the future, and how you can mitigate these issues.

You may also offer realistic ways to resolve the issue or improve its current condition. Explain why your solutions work by showing some testable evidence you've gathered.

A conclusion is mandatory in every case study. This section wraps up all the research that you've done. Here, you summarize the key points, findings, and insights from the case study, which reinforce the key takeaways that you have. You can also suggest some areas for further exploration for other researchers.

Provide all the citations for your case study, meaning, listing all the literature, sources, and references that you used. This section should provide credibility to your research, as well as a starting point for your readers to explore the topic further.

How to write a case study?

Writing a case study is a big task. You need to follow specific formatting and guidelines to ensure a clear flow. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t improve the process.

Follow these steps to write a clear and thorough case study:

Add tables, charts, and images to your Case Study

Start with a topic statement, so it’s easier to figure out how to approach your case study. This is the first step you need to take before you get down to writing your research. Identify the goal of your case study and the main questions you want to answer. Figure out who the case study is designed to help and what the client's objectives are, especially if you’re writing a business case study. Knowing your specific objective will help set the foundation for impactful research.

Get some juices flowing
Brainstorm some initial ideas and narrow them down to something well-defined. Use Canva Whiteboards’ unlimited canvas and collaborative brainstorming tools to get started.

Once you’ve determined the goal, it’s time to pick the case you want to focus on. This is where you choose the case study type to help you achieve your earlier objectives.

There are so many methods you can use to collect data on your topic. There’s primarily qualitative methods, such as interviews, observations, or analysis from different sources. Then there’s also a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. Ensure that the information you’ve gathered is comprehensive and covers all the aspects of your research to accurately depict the real-world scenario.

Your goal during this phase is to thoroughly understand the case as much as possible. The more thorough your research, the stronger the foundation will be.

Write your case study now that you’ve gathered enough data and resources to start making your case. You can follow a structure depending on the kind of case study that you’re doing. You can also use Canva Docs’ free case study templates for starters.

An important consideration when you’re writing is to make sure that you provide contextual details about the topic and bring them back to the data and the theory.

It’s time to analyze and present all the data you’ve gathered. Describe the strategies or methodologies that were applied. Interpret the data and look for patterns that give meaning to your study. Show measurable results as the solution. Use metrics and other success stories to quantify the findings.

After finishing your case study, go through your work again. Proofread for some grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. You can also read it aloud to ensure that it flows well.

Get external eyes to check your case study by consulting trusted colleagues or mentors. They can check if you’ve missed any methodology loopholes and comment on your data collection process. Having some constructive feedback can help you create a better case study.

Get inspired with case study templates

Whether you’re writing your first case study or already working on your 12th, having a ready-made, free case study template makes the process much easier. With a template, you don’t have to start from scratch, and you can focus on the more important things, such as your data gathering and analysis.

Choose from any of our case study examples below and customize them depending on the kind of study you are doing.

All you need in a case study maker

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Case study best practices

Writing a case study is indeed an arduous task. It takes time, effort, and other resources. It might be daunting at first, but it becomes easier once you have a few case studies under your belt. Not to mention it’s also fun and exciting to understand certain subjects more deeply.

Follow these best practices to create a thorough and well-received case study:

Keep it clear and well-structured

You want your study to be understood by your audience. Keeping it structured and following a clear format for readability is essential. Ensure that the language is polished and the entire case has a smooth flow from start to finish. When you write with Canva Docs, your case study is automatically outlined according to your headings, so it’s easier for you to keep track of your content’s structure, and move things around if necessary.

Keep your case study concise and transparently deliver your research process, analysis, and results. Conciseness in your study will catch your reader’s attention and help them navigate your research more easily. This will also make your study understandable and impactful.

Don’t forget to proofread and double-check for any spelling or grammar issues. This reflects your professionalism. The last checkpoint is a final proofread before submitting or publishing your case study.

Use Magic Write's summary tool in your Case Study

Keep your case study concise, organized, and succinct with the help of Magic Write, an AI writing assistant.

Make it visual

Case studies may not exactly be exciting reads for everyone. But still, you can make your own case study research enjoyable by using visual elements. Use data visualization to avoid overwhelming your readers with numbers. This also makes your data eye-catching and organized-looking.

Aside from data visualization, you can also use photos or quotes that support your case study. Incorporate images that help convey the message and add value to your research.

Docs made for multimedia
Breathe life into your case study with images, graphics, and even videos from Canva’s free media library. Embed Canva designs and add editable design ​blocks to really make your Docs pop.

Take as much time as needed

Don’t rush the whole research process. Writing a case study is time- and labor-intensive, and requires lots of patience. Rushing could lead you to miss details and essential information necessary for your research. You wouldn’t want to hasten and end up presenting a case study that’s not ready. Take as much time as you need to gather all the data and conduct all the analyses to dive deep into your topic.

Creating a thorough case study also requires meticulousness and commitment to understanding the topic. Refrain from rushing through the whole process to ensure the quality and depth of your research.

For this purpose, you’ll want to use a document creator that saves your work’s progress, so you can take your time off and come back to it again. Canva Docs stores your documents in the cloud, making them accessible anytime, on any device.

Share or download your Case Study

Share your case study with your peers, or save it to your team folder — explore various options available on your Canva Doc.

Be transparent

Acknowledge any limitations in your study and address them. Being transparent in your reporting can help establish credibility and replicate your study.

Clearly document your research process and ensure transparency in reporting your methodology and analysis, including the limitations. Articulate your steps and provide a clear overview of your data analysis process. Address whatever ethical considerations were made in your study, such as consent, the participants’ confidentiality, and others. Be honest about whatever challenges you have faced during your research.

Seek peer review

Asking for feedback from colleagues and other researchers can help you gain valuable insights and external perspectives. It’s a critical aspect of the research process.

Don’t be afraid to share your work with trusted mentors to identify blind spots and improve the quality of your study. They can spot potential biases that you may have overlooked. External review can also validate the credibility of your research. They can provide insights and an alternative perspective to your methodology, so you can add new sources or rectify your research approach to strengthen your study.

Feedback via comments
Share your doc with your peers and exchange feedback by leaving comments. Highlight any element, click the thought bubble button on the right, and type your comment or react with an emoji.

Case study FAQs

The time you spend on your case study depends on its scope. It can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the complexity of the subject. Data gathering, such as multiple interviews with different sources, can span months.

With a free case study template, you won’t have to start from scratch, so you can cut back on time.

Solving a case study requires much time and effort spent researching and gathering the necessary data.

Approach your case study by following these steps:

  • Start by understanding the problem or question.
  • Then, conduct a thorough analysis and consider various perspectives and sources.
  • List down the possible solutions to address the issue.
  • Assess the pros and cons of every solution and evaluate its feasibility.
  • Recommend a solution that’s supported by evidence and aligned with your case.

A case study can be written by a researcher, academic, or professional who wants to or is tasked with investigating a particular topic or problem. It can be written by a single person or a team, depending on the scope of the case study.

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