QR Code

QR (Quick Response) codes are widely used for marketing purposes, website logins, document and material tracking, and a host of other applications.

The code was developed by the Japanese company Denso in 1994. According to Denso, printed QR code that has been smudged can be restored to reflect the original data it contained.

If you simply need a one–off QR code, check out our free online QR code maker.

Making QR Codes

You can easily make a QR code with Barcode application by selecting it from the popup menu shown by the Plus button at the bottom left corner of the application window.

Once the code is created, double–click it to open the editor:

QR code editor window

The code itself is displayed on the left, while its content in text form is displayed on the right. You can edit the data and the barcode will reflect your changes.

There is a number of other QR codes supported by the application: Wi–Fi network code, V–Card code, Payment code etc. You can also create them using the Plus button and edit in the same manner. The only difference is that the right panel will contain different data fields specific to that particular QR code.

QR Code Parameters

There is a number of extra options that you can adjust on the Appearance tab on the right:

QR code parameters panel

The top parameters group Size and proportions is standard and is pretty much the same as for other barcodes. You can adjust the barcode size and scale here. The Output and Notes sections at the bottom are also standard. What is different is the sections in the middle.

Automatic Barcode Setup

The first option there is the Automatic barcode setup. QR codes may contain quite a lot of data and the more data they have, the more detailed they are. On the other hand, you want the details of the QR code to be as large as possible to simplify it scanning and reduce the errors rate.

When the QR code is configured automatically, the software tries to minimize the number of modules (dots) in the QR code, so each barcode element is as large as possible within the dimensions you configured above. You will notice that the number of barcode elements increases when you enter longer data and reduces when the content gets shorter. This way the software tries to optimise the barcode for easier scanning. The error correction level is set to “Low” in automatic mode, providing about 20% of redundancy. This is usually enough and if you simply need a QR code, it is safe to leave it by default.

QR Code Size

If you disable the automatic barcode setup option, you can adjust the barcode size manually. The minimal QR code size is 21x21 modules (a module is basically a dot that makes the QR code). The maximal size is 177x177 modules. The sizes grow in steps of 4 modules, so the next size after 21x21 is 25x25 and so on.

You can adjust the size using the drop–down control to match your needs.

If after changing the size you see the blank code, this means that the content you entered cannot be encoded in that number of modules. Consider increasing the barcode size to get this fixed.

Adjusting QR code size

The screenshot above shows a QR code manually configured to 53x53 modules resolution. However, it still contains the same text as the ones above. Try scanning them with your mobile phone to check that.

You usually don’t need to manually modify the QR code size, unless you want to specify a custom error correction level or embed the artwork into QR code (see below for more details).

Error Correction

Another option that gets enabled when you turn the automatic barcode setup option off is the Error correction. Here you can configure how much of redundancy to add to the barcode data to make it more tolerant to marks, scratches and other issues that might prevent it from being scanned properly.

By default, the application adds 20% of redundancy, but you can add more if needed. The more redundancy you add, the more detailed the QR code becomes, so if at some point the code disappears — consider increasing the barcode size, as the current one does not fit all the necessary data.

Again, you hardly need to change this manually unless you want to place an image into QR code (see below).


The next property you can configure is Mask. Mask is a feature of QR code that allows the codes with exactly the same settings, content, size and error correction level still look different.

Here are eight codes with all the parameters set to be the same except for the mask. You see that they all look different, while having the same content:

QR code masks

The masks are there mostly for technical reasons. They control the pattern of the modules (dots) of the barcode and let you choose the best one. From the technical point of view, the best pattern is the one that gives about 50/50 proportion of black and white modules.

If the Mask parameter is set to Auto, the software will try all the masks and choose the one that gives the best black/white ratio. You might want to override that and select the mask manually, say is a specific mask gives a better visual appearance. Despite the 50/50 criteria, all 8 QR codes are correct and can replace each other without any consequences for scanning or data validity.

Adding Empty Space

You need this if you want to put a logotype or some other artwork in the middle of the QR code.

Although it sounds easy, it requires a good understanding of the information above and some additional details, so we have a separate tutorial for that:

See the QR Code with Image Tutorial…

Additional Information

If you want to know more about QR code internals, there is a nice series of articles here: QR Codes Variety.

Consider reading through all the parts to get a better understanding of QR codes especially if you are going to embed images there.

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