Using QR Codes

QR Code Types

Using QR Codes begins with a decision about the type of information you would like to store (encode) within the bar code.

The following is a description of the various types of data designed to be stored within a QR code.

Using QR Codes

Scan with your phone


What they are: The most basic QR Code. When scanned, a Text QR Code simply displays a message.

When to use: Text QR Codes are useful when you only need to inform your audience of something rather than direct them to a specific place, person, or thing. An example demonstrating this use would be an event-specific contest or giveaway, such as a scavenger hunt, where there are people on the ground to handle contestants. For non-specific events or campaigns, URL QR Codes are more suitable.


What they are: A website-focused QR Code. URL QR Codes prompt most QR Code Scanners to open the user’s browser to the specified website or microsite.

When to use: URL QR Codes are the most general purpose and widely used QR Code, as they provide the most flexibility; they can provide anything from simple website exposure to access to website-managed events and trade shows.


What they are: Contact QR Codes contain a plethora of contact information, much like a business card. When scanned, most modern phones allow the user to automatically add a new phone contact based on the information in the code.

When to use: Contact QR Codes provide an easy way for customers to both find and save your information. This breaks down the barrier-of-use involved in getting customers to actually write down your information; All it takes is a scan and a click for the user to save all of your information, even down to details like fax number or website address.


What they are: Phone QR Codes direct users to a specific phone number, and allow easy access to initiate a phone call.

When to use: Not only do they greatly reduce the incidence of mis-typed phone numbers, but they also remove the obstacle of getting a customer to type it out in the first place. Best used to ease customers into calling a specific phone line or service.


What they are: SMS QR Codes are highly specialized QR Codes which preload an SMS message for the user. After being scanned, most modern phones will allow the user to press one button to send a pre-set message to a pre-set Phone/SMS number.

When to use: SMS QR Codes are most useful when using specific SMS-driven event or contest driven campaigns. Like Contact QR Codes, they break the barrier-of-use when it comes to getting a potential customer to commit. These type of QR Codes remove the need for a customer to sit down and type out a number and message they’re unfamiliar with, which itself can be a huge barrier to participation. These codes also help to reduce user error in copying down and repeating the specified Phone/SMS number.

QR Code Formats

The following three file formats are typically used when creating QR codes.

The PNG format is for use on a website or other digital applications at the size it is created or smaller (as a raster image).

The SVG format is typically used for website or other digital applications and can be scaled larger or smaller without loss of resolution (as a vector image) .

The PDF format is typically used for printed output onto paper, card stock or other digital and non-digital applications. As a vector image this format can also be scaled larger or smaller without a loss of resolution.


Portable Network Graphics: The most widely used QR Code image format, and the best general purpose choice for online use. Typically selected for web or email based codes when a smaller image and file size is required. PNG files are raster based and as such will degrade with enlargement beyond its originally created image size.


Scalable Vector Graphics: A vector-based image format designed for online use, SVG files are vector based and as such will not degrade with enlargement beyond its originally created image size.


Portable Document Format: The standard for most computer documents. Best used when embedding QR Codes within other PDF documents, such as reports.
Best used when integrating a QR Code into a design to be professionally printed.

When Using QR Codes to Print

You have many options available when it comes to adding printed QR codes to your display properties. To learn more about printing QR codes click here.

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