In this article
While you read this our QRs got >5,000 visits
Claim yours now
How to print QR Codes: the definitive guide
How to print QR Codes: 7 hacks (+1) to make people scan your QRs more
In this article
Let’s take a look at how to choose the best file format for printing your codes and getting scans.
PNG is a raster image format and the other three are vector image formats. As a general rule of thumb, raster images are ideal for digital platforms while vector images are better for printed materials since they don’t lose any resolution when they increase in size. Let’s go over all four formats.
The QR image formats
Portable Network Graphics is a lossless data compression format that supports palette-based images with palettes of 24-bit RGB or 32-bit RGBA colors and full-color non-palette-based RGB and RGBA images. PNG also supports grayscale images and images with transparent backgrounds.
If you want to use your QR code in an email or on your website, a PNG file will suit you well.
Adobe created Portable Document Format files in the 1990s to display images independent of any one operating system, software or hardware. These documents include all the text fonts, vector graphics, raster images and other information required to display the image.
They are common in business for sharing information with others. In fact, we have a special type of QR code for sharing PDFs and other files for visitors to download.
Don’t worry if all this sounds super technical. We would be delighted to help you choose the right format.
Choosing the right format
There is no one-size-fits all answer for which file format to use when printing your QR code. You need to know where it will be displayed, how it will be displayed, how large it needs to be, what colors you will need, how crisp it’s going to be, etc. A colorful QR code on a high resolution poster may not need the same file format as a black and white one that is printed on a receipt.
If you only need it to be displayed on a screen (like in your email signature), a PNG file is fine.
For professionally printed items like high resolution posters, EPS and PDF are good choices.
If video or TV is involved, a PNG file with interlacing, opacity and transparency is likely your best option.
But, the best recommendation we can give for choosing a file format is to contact us and explain your needs. We will work with you to figure out the optimal format for your code. Helping our customers is the highlight of our day.
QR Code Printing Hacks
Customized QR codes attract more attention and generally get more scans than the plain black and white ones. However, you have to make sure you design wisely. Your QR code should still be recognizable as a QR code. Remember that it’s not just people who will need to recognize it. QR code readers also need to recognize the code as a QR code and be able to scan it.
When you’re adding colors and little design elements around the code, make sure you can still recognize it as a QR code.
Every time you make a change to your QR code in uQR.me, our system automatically analyzes it for readability and lets you know if it’s good or if it’s unreadable.
But, you should still test, test and test again before you print your code. Use multiple phones, multiple QR code readers and do some test prints first.
A QR code that is too small will be overlooked and ignored. You want visitors to scan your code, so make it big enough for them to notice. We recommend printing them no smaller than 3 cm x 3 cm (1 inch x 1 inch). If you’re not sure, err on the side of printing them larger rather than smaller.
Technically, there is no limit to how large you can make them. Perform some test scans to figure out the maximum size for your QR code on your material.
Links break and information goes out of date. To avoid leading your customers to a 404 page or a coupon that expired last month, make sure your QR code is dynamic. That means you can edit the content the code links to. Always test your code to make sure it is connected with the correct information. If you need to update it, just sign into your uQR.me account and edit the code. Super simple!
When you think of printing, paper usually comes to mind. But, you can print your QR code on many other objects. Print it out and stick it on your work vehicle or on your shop window, for example. Be aware of the material you’re printing on, though. If it reflects too much light or it somehow distorts the image, that can render it unreadable.
Uneven surfaces are also something you need to be wary of. Similarly, if your code is broken up in any way, that can also affect its scannability. For example, if it’s printed with a magazine fold running through it. The key, as always, is to test frequently before you commit to a large scale printing project.
QR codes are fantastic for reaching your audience, but you also have to put the codes within their reach. That means placing them where visitors can scan them easily. If they’re too low, too high, too far away or in some kind of inaccessible spot, they’ll either be missed entirely or visitors just won’t bother to go through the trouble of scanning them.
This means you have to think about how your media is going to be displayed. If you’re printing out a large poster for a bus shelter and that poster is going to be positioned 30 cm (12 inches) off the ground, you may want to avoid putting your QR code in one of the bottom corners because that would put your code 30 cm off the ground.
People might bend over or crouch down to scan it, but it’s more likely to be scanned if it’s at eye or chest level.
It takes an average of 10-15 seconds for visitors to take their phone out of their pocket or purse, open their camera app and scan a QR code. That may seem fast, but it still might be too long for some applications. Putting them on the side of a transit bus, for example, might not give people enough time to scan them.
However, we’re all about experimentation with your QR codes, so we would never tell you definitively not to do something with them. But, giving people enough time to get their phones out and scan them is definitely something to think about when placing them.
You may need to print multiple QR codes on the same piece of media, but it’s a good idea to avoid putting them directly beside each other (or directly beside a bar code).
If you have too many next to each other, it may confuse the QR code reader when visitors are trying to scan them. You may be better off putting them on opposite sides of your media or in the corners, etc.
There are also codes that can link to multiple URLs at once. For example, you can have a QR code that links to both the Google Play store and the Apple App Store and opens the correct URL depending on what type of device scans the code. So, you may not even need multiple QR codes.
Don’t forget the CTAProvide a compelling call-to-action (CTA) for visitors. It’s not enough to just have your QR code printed on something. You should tell guests why they should scan it. Tell them they can view your newest video or they’ll save 30% or they can download your app, etc. by scanning the code. Give customers some incentive and watch your scan numbers skyrocket.
Test drive your codes
Even if the uQR.me system tells you your code is readable, make sure you test it. Use multiple phones, multiple QR code scanners, print it out one time to test it before you do a mass printing, etc. This can save you a lot of headaches and money.
If you put the wrong link into your dynamic QR code, you can always edit the back end of the QR code and put the correct link in. But, if your printed code is unscannable, there’s not much you’ll be able to do about it until you fix the code and make it scannable.
So, test your codes and then test them again. (And one more time just to be sure.)
When printing QR codes, there is much to think about: size, scannability, file format, placement and more. But, if you design your code well, you place it well and you use the right file type, you will end up with a magical marketing tool that lets visitors interact with your brand in a fun and engaging way.
If you need any help with designing or choosing a file format for your QR code, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We live to help.