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How Do I Choose the Best QR Code Size?

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  • Written By: Lynelle Harmon
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Quick Response codes, or QR codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that contain encoded information that can be read and decoded by barcode scanners that utilize the cameras on smartphones. The design of the QR code is vital in order for the creator to get the intended message across to the viewer. Minimum QR size requirements exist for the types of information most often encoded, such as a webpage address or contact information. The codes may be enlarged from the minimum depending on how close to the user they’ll be displayed, as there needs to be a close enough distance for the camera to read the code.

The square shape of QR code matrices is designed for readability for the barcode scanner. Three sections positioned in the corners of the square provide a way for the scanner to orient itself and recognize how the code is presented. It is then able to run the data in the center through a decoding program, which includes a certain degree of error correction, before presenting the intended message to the user.

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Minimum QR code size depends on the storage size of the data contained. Business cards displaying a code containing twenty-six characters of personal information can be as small as 0.6 by 0.6 inches (15 by 15 millimeters). A web address requires a minimum matrix of 1.25 by 1.25 inches (32 by 32 millimeters). Codes on a restaurant menu that contain a full wine list may require a matrix that’s 2.4 inches (60 millimeters) square and contains up to 739 characters.

The suggested minimum QR code size is based upon a camera range of 6 inches (152.4 millimeters). Doubling the distance for the camera also doubles the required QR code size, and tripling the distance triples the size. A code on a side of a building that’s meant to be used from the road will likely be the size of a billboard.

Creators of codes should keep QR code size practical to the medium and to the likely distance of the user. Business cards, for example, can have minimum-sized codes because users will most often be holding the card when it’s used. A code on a movie poster encased in glass and hung along an escalator will need to be larger to account for users who move close and away from it. Billboard-sized QR codes should only be used when absolutely necessary, as they’re likely to cause distraction for drivers and are impractical to shoot from too close to the building.

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indemnifyme
Post 3

@Azuza - QR codes actually make a lot more sense than just having the information written out. Most QR code reader applications don't just read the code, they navigate you to the webpage the code is for.

A lot of people will look at the name of a website, and not bother visiting it. But scanning a QR code is kind of fun and active. I think more people are likely to actually do it. Then, they'll visit the webpage and have it saved in their phone.

So I think an appropriately sized QR code is a good addition to almost anything!

Azuza
Post 2

@eidetic - I could see that working on some people. Probably not on me though. I kind of hate QR codes. Why not just write out the information, instead of making people use their smart phone cameras? Not everyone has a smart phone you know!

Either way, I think that if you are going to use a QR code, it needs to be big enough to be seen, but small enough to be unobtrusive. I saw a business card recently that had a QR code on the front that took up half the card. It was very distracting and did not inspire me to use my phone on the QR code.

eidetic
Post 1

I know a lot of people use QR codes now, but I've never seen one on the side of a building! I wonder if it would even be possible to use your phone to pick up the information in a QR code that big? If so, that might be a really cool gimmick to use to advertise something.

You could just put an appropriately sized QR code on the side of a building, and nothing else. I think a lot of people would be curious enough to use their smart phones and find out what the code stands for.

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