QR Code Basics

What's a QR Code? How much data can I put in it? How do I scan? Let us take you through the basics of QR Codes. Find out about the technology and what it takes to create and read them.

QR Code Basics
What is a QR Code?

The QR Code is a two-dimensional version of the barcode, known from product packaging in the supermarket. Originally developed for process optimization in the logistics of the automotive industry, the QR Code has found its way into mobile marketing with the widespread adoption of smartphones. "QR" stands for "Quick Response", which refers to the instant access to the information hidden in the Code. QR Codes are gaining popularity because the technology is "open source", i.e. available for everyone. Significant advantages of QR Codes over conventional barcodes are larger data capacity and high fault tolerance.

Code Structure
How is a QR Code structured?

The black and white checkered pixel patterns appear at first glance to be a small crossword puzzle and seem to be composed at random. But if you look closely, certain structures can be identified. For the scanner to recognize a QR Code as such, the Code must always be square. A number of additional elements ensure that the information is read correctly.

Positioning markings
Positioning markings

They indicate the direction in which the Code is printed.

Alignment markings
Alignment markings

If the QR Code is large, this additional element helps with orientation.

Timing pattern
Timing pattern

Using these lines, the scanner determines how large the data matrix is.

Version information
Version information

These specify the QR Code version that is being used. There are currently 40 different QR Code versions. For marketing purposes, versions 1-7 are normally used.

Format information
Format information

The format patterns contain information about the error tolerance and the data mask pattern and make it easier to scan the Code.

Data and error correction keys
Data and error correction keys

These patterns hold the actual data.

Quiet zone
Quiet zone

This spacing is important for the scanning program in order to distinguish the QR Code from its surroundings.

What happens if a QR Code is damaged?

To ensure that the information contained in the QR Code can be read even if it is damaged, the data keys include duplications (redundancies).Because of this, up to 30% of the Code structure can be destroyed without affecting the readability of the Code.

What can be stored in a QR Code?

Up to 7089 digits or 4296 characters, including punctuation marks and special characters, can be entered in one Code. In addition to numbers and characters, words and phrases (e.g. Internet addresses) can be encoded as well. As more data is added to the QR Code, the Code size increases and the Code structure becomes more complex.

How do I create a QR Code?

Creating a QR Code takes only a few seconds. The first step is to go to a website which generates QR Codes, e.g. www.qr-code-generator.com. There you can choose the type of the Code you want to create and then enter the appropriate data. Simply click on "Create QR Code", and your personal QR Code is ready. Now you just decide, in which image format you want to use the Code and download the file easily.

How do I scan a QR Code?

To scan a QR Code, you first need to have a scanner app on your smartphone. A large selection of these can be downloaded for free in the various app stores. When you have installed one, start the application and keep the camera of your smartphone over the QR Code to scan it. If the Code is readable, the encoded address or action will be accessed automatically.