QUESTION: What is a QR symbol (QR code)?
ANSWER: The QR symbol (QR code) is a 2D (two-dimensional)
symbology that is being used increasingly for applications related to
advertising, marketing, and product promotion. QR codes are also used for
commercial tracking applications.
In Japan, QR Codes are seen everywhere; now they are being adopted in the Western hemisphere.
QR stands for "Quick Response." The QR code's format is designed to enable rapid reading;
its "finder pattern" of nested alternating dark and light squares at three corners of the symbol makes this possible.
A QR code
As mentioned, the QR code is two-dimensional symbology
(sometimes referred to as a "2D bar code" or "two-dimensional bar code").
Contrast this with other kinds of bar codes that we see in our daily lives —
most of them are "one-dimensional" bar codes. That is: the marks that
make up the bar code are arranged in one row (one dimension), usually the
A UPC bar code
UPC bar codes are
one-dimensional bar codes.
They are found on product packaging in supermarkets
and other retail environments.
A Code 128 bar code.
Code 128 bar codes are
one-dimensional bar codes.
They are widely used
in many industries, particularly
related to shipping and packaging.
What kind of information can be represented by a QR code?
A QR Code can represent 7366 numeric characters, 4464 alphanumeric characters, 2953 binary values,
or 1817 Kanji/Kana characters.
You can use a QR code to represent pretty much anything you want — a name and address,
an account number, a product name, a Web-site address, whatever.
How do you get the information out of a QR code?
To understand the information a QR code represents, you need a scanning wand or
camera phone that is programmed to understand and interpret QR codes. As explained above,
QR codes are increasingly being used in applications that rely on smart phones or camera phones.
The QR code uses Reed-Solomon error-correction methodology.
What are QR codes used for?
As explained above, QR codes are being used increasingly for applications related to advertising, marketing,
and product promotion; they are also used for commercial tracking applications.
QR codes are particularly popular in applications for smart phones and camera phones.
QR codes storing addresses and URLs may appear in magazines, on signs, on buses, on business cards,
in storefront windows. Someone with a phone equipped with an appropriate reader application can scan the
image of a QR code to display text or contact information, connect to a wireless network,
or open a web page in the phone's browser.
How can you put QR codes on your documents?
The process of putting QR codes on your documents isn't as straightforward
as putting one-dimensional bar codes on your documents.
Let's compare the two processes.
In most situations, to put a one-dimensional bar code on a document, you just need to
type the information to be represented (or somehow generate that information automatically),
and you need to format that information with the proper bar-code font.
The procedure for putting a QR code on a document is different and
more complicated than what we've just described, for two reasons:
If you want to put the same QR code on every document in a print run, you can take advantage of several free
on-line services that allow you to type in the information to be represented by the QR code; the QR code is then
generated automatically, and you can download it and use it in your documents. Click the link below to find out
about several of these free on-line services.
- Since a QR code is two-dimensional, you can't
represent the information in it with just one line of
characters in your document.
- The relationship between the marks that make up the QR code
and the information that those marks represent is more complex
than the relationship between the marks that make up a one-dimensional
bar code and the information that the bar code represents.
In some instances, you migh want to print a different QR code on each document in your print run.
For example, you could print QR codes that represent information in a data file. We offer
several variable-data-printing applications that can handle this. Click the link below to learn about them.