QR Code sizes

You’re probably planning on using a QR Code in one of your print media campaigns. It might be for use cases such as getting the audience to visit your website, avail discount, or follow you on social media.

You’re now thinking—what QR Code size would be appropriate for my print media material? Don’t worry. You are not alone.

Minimum size is a common concern for many while working with QR Codes. Users often come to us with questions such as:

‘I am putting a QR Code on the label of my clothing range. How small can the size be?’

‘What is the ideal size of a QR Code to put on a business card?’

‘I need to add a QR Code on the packaging of my product. Is there a minimum size of QR Code I need to use?’

‘I tested my QR Code but when I printed a copy for my magazine it didn’t scan? What’s the problem?’

If you’re reading this article, you most likely have a similar question. So we decided to write a post about it and answer the big question—what is the ideal size of a QR Code?

Well, there is no right answer to this question. Yes, there’s no standardized size for QR Codes. The right size depends on how and where you’re planning to use them.

And the good news is that you can still calculate the ideal size for your use case. However, let’s first understand why QR Code size is important in the first place.

A. QR Code Size

The size of a QR Code is important for it to scan well. You know that QR Codes are commonly scanned using a smartphone. The smartphone camera has to read each and every data module to be able to decode a QR Code.

And you know that quality of the camera varies widely across different smartphones.

Some of them are very good and can scan even very small QR Codes. But others simply can’t.

So you must make sure your QR Code size is large enough to be scanned using most of the smartphones.

And for most smartphone cameras to read a QR Code, its size should be at least 1 x 1 inch. Or 2.5 x 2.5 cm. Or 115 x 115 pixels (in width and height).

Now that you know why QR Code size is important, the next question is—

B. How do I calculate the right size for my QR Code

To calculate the right QR Code size for your use case, you first have to think about a few things:

1. Scanning Distance

Think about where you will put your QR Code. And what will be the scanning distance approximately.

For example—say you want to put a Vcard QR Code on your business card. When scanned using a smartphone, it will take users to your contact details and an option to save you as a contact.

In this case, the scanner will be just a few feet away from the QR Code.

On the other hand, say you want to add the QR Code on a large billboard. Here the scanner will be about a hundred meters away from the QR Code image.

Depending on the scanning distance, you can calculate the QR Code size using this standard rule:

QR Code minimum size: basic rule

The ratio of the scanning distance to the size of the QR Code should be close to 10:1.

For example—say you want to add a QR Code on a flyer. This flyer will go on a notice board.

And the distance between the QR Code and the smartphone would be about one foot.

Using the given formula, the minimum size of the QR Code in this use case would be 1.2 inches.

Similarly, once you know the scanning distance, you can easily calculate the suitable QR Code size for your use case.

2. Amount of data to be encoded

You know that the data is encoded across the rows and columns of a QR Code. Hence, a QR Code reader scans these rows and columns to decode the QR Code.

The number of these rows, columns, and characters affect the scannability of a QR Code. How?

If you increase the data to be encoded, the number of rows and columns also increase. As a result, the scannability decreases.

To ensure higher scannability of QR Codes, use the rule given below:

Advanced rule to calculate size of a QR Code

Say you want to use a Vcard QR Code on your business cards. Here, the approximate scanning distance will be about 0.5 feet or maybe 6 inches. And the number of rows in a Vcard QR Code is 57.

Applying this data to the given rule, we get that minimum QR Code size should be 1.37 inches. Or 3.48 cm. Or 132 pixels.

Note that lesser the number of rows and columns, higher is the QR Code’s scannability.

Hence, you should not add too much data if you’re creating a static QR Code. It will make your QR Code dense and decrease its scannability.

In fact, if you want to create a static QR Code for a website link, you can use a URL shortener tool such as Bit.ly.

It will decrease the number of characters or we can say—the data to be encoded in the QR Code. This will, as a result, cut the number of rows and columns, and hence the size of the QR Code.

However, unlike static QR Codes, Dynamic QR Codes are less dense. Hence, if you want to encode detailed content, you must create a dynamic QR Code.

3. QR Code design

Say you’re creating a QR Code for one of your promotional campaigns. You’d want as many people as possible to scan the QR Code. Hence, you must add a design to it. Why?

Plain black-and-white QR Codes are boring to look at. They look like barcodes and people often perceive them as ‘some barcodes for official use’. Hence, they do not enthuse the audience.

On the other hand, QR Codes customized by adding colors and image act as point-of-engagement to attract the maximum number of scans. Hence, many marketers now customize their QR Codes by adding their brand’s logo and colors to it.

And here’s the thing. Such customized QR Codes need a high error correction level to remain scannable.

Not sure what error correction is? It is a property of QR Codes that helps them remain scannable by adding additional rows and columns. This ensures high scannability despite dirt or damage.

Hence, when you customize your QR Code, it is recommended that you keep the error correction level high. And since high error correction increases the number of rows and columns, the QR Code minimum size also increases.

4. Printing Requirements

Say you need a large sized QR Code for print media such as a poster, billboard banner, or a wall.

In such cases, you must export the QR Code in a vector format (SVG, EPS, PD, or PDF).

These formats can be easily scaled. No matter how much you zoom in, an image in vector format doesn’t pixelate.

Also, always make sure there is enough color contrast between your QR Code and its background.

That means if your QR Code is dark-colored (such as black), choose a light color for the background (such as white). Similarly, if your QR Code is light-colored, use dark colors in the background.

And finally, your QR Code should have appropriate margin width. This width should be equal to about four data modules. This helps scanners read the QR Code well.

While following the above rules is a good practice, the golden rule is to always test your QR Code before you download them for bulk printing.

That’s it. You now know everything about QR Code minimum size. You can now go ahead to create a QR Code for your use case. To do that, you will need a QR Code generator.

Now there are many QR Code generators online and a Google search will give you pages of results.

Don’t worry. You will not have to compare all of them individually to find the best one for your use case. To make it easier for you, we have compiled a detailed comparison chart for the top QR Code generators. You can go through it to find the best one for your use case.


Get Started with your first QR Code

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Still have any queries? Ask them in the comments.

Gautam Garg is a Co-founder and the CEO of Scanova. He is a QR Code enthusiast and a big fan of inbound marketing, CRO, and usability. When taking a break, he likes to go trekking and eat spicy food.

Comments

  1. Does it make sense to make a small (3cm) QR code on a T-shirt? Or what is the practical minimal QR size specifically for T-shirts?

  2. what is the ideal MP or mega pixel is sufficient for phone camera to capture QR code correctly ? Is there a minimum MP required ?

  3. thanks Gautam for this nice post. I have a question. What Mega pixel (MP) camera is sufficient for a QR code scanning ?

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