About the QR Code

What do the letters QR stand for?
The letters Q and R stand for quick response.
This code was so named because the main purpose of the code development was to create a code that could be read quickly.
This is the origin of its name. However the official name of the code is QR Code, and this should never be interpreted as an acronym for "Quick Response" Code.
How Where is QR Code used?
The case study section includes a number of application examples. of how QR Code is used in a wide variety of applications, such as manufacturing, logistics, and sales applications.
In terms of common everyday use, QR Code is printed on paperback spines, rental video cases, and sushi plates used in revolving sushi bars.
Are the specifications of the QR Code publicly available?
Specifications of the code were approved as a JIS standard (JIS X 0510) in November 2004. Therefore, they are publicly available.
How do I create QR Code?
QR Code can be printed to any QR Code compatible printer.
Our Windows compatible software can be used to create QR Code for printing to any Windows compatible printer.

For more detail, please see 'Generating QR Code'
How large is QR Code?
The size of QR Code depends on a its module size and a symbol version.
The module size is the size of the modules making up the QR Code (the smallest square areas that make up a QR Code).
How small you can make the printed modules of a code depends on the printer you are using. With a common laser printer, the minimum printable module size is about 0.17 mm.
There are 40 versions, 1 to 40, of QR Code defined, and the number of modules used in a code is determined in each. The smallest version has 21 x 21 modules.
Given the above, the minimum size of a QR Code is 0.17 mm x 21, that is, 3.57 mm or so.
On the other hand, there is no limit to the size of large codes because you can print out large images for a code whose modules are made large. Take note, however, that, if you make it too big, it may not be readable with a scanner any longer.

For more detail, please see 'Point for setting the module size'
Can an image or sound be stored in a QR Code?
QR Code can store binary data. Therefore, images and sounds can be stored in it as binary data.
However, the amount of data that can be stored in a QR Code is about 3 KB or less (for Version 40 with correction level L) at the maximum.
Images or sounds that can be expressed with this amount of data are very limited. For the case where a QR Code is read using the camera feature of the mobile phone, the amount of data read in with it is 271 bytes or so (for Version 10 with error correction level L), though this figure may vary depending on phone's manufacturer and its model type. Therefore, it is prudent to assume that images and sounds cannot be stored directly in QR Code for practical purposes when using the phone to read data.
How can I determine the version to be used when different kinds of characters are used?
When determining an appropriate version for data with different kinds of characters in it, refer to the section titled "When different kinds of characters are mixed" under the 'Information capacity and versions of the QR Code' heading.
Can the size of the QR Code be fixed when using it for variable size data?
Whether or not the version of the QR Code being used can be changed depends on the software for generating QR Codes and the functionality of the QR Code-ready printer.
DENSO WAVE's QR Code-generating software, QRmaker Ad or QRdraw Ad, features a function to fix the version of QR Code being used.
However, if you fix the version, an error will occur when the amount of data being stored is larger than the amount that can be stored with the fixed version of the QR Code.
Then, it becomes impossible to generate a QR Code. You need to be aware of this possibility.
The QR Code is designed, from the beginning, to use different versions for different amounts of data to be stored. Therefore, we recommend our users to use it within this constraint.
Is it possible to encode Chinese or Korean with a QR Code?
Yes, it is. QR Code can store data from whatever character code set as binary code. When reading such encoded data, the reading side must process it based on the same character code set. If this is done correctly, Chinese or Korean characters can be recognized correctly.
When reading a QR Code in which data following the GB2312 coding system is stored, for instance, the reading side has to process it as GB2312 coding system-based data.

The QR Code can store the traditional and simplified Chinese characters and Hangul characters using its compaction mode where the number of bits for coding a character is compacted to 13 bits, making it possible to generate codes efficiently (smaller-size QR Codes).
The QR Code with this feature where GB2312 coding system-based characters are encoded in the 13-bit compaction mode is approved as a Chinese national standard.
Please note, however, that QR Codes generated in the 13-bit compaction mode may not be read with a mobile phone or other devices, though they can definitely be read with any of Denso Wave's scanners.
It is all right to use QR Codes with colors or an inserted illustration?
Users of QR Code must be careful about deforming the code by overlaying it with an illustration or putting a a design on it. If it is deformed, the QR Code's error correction function is invoked where even a tiny missing or smeared part renders the reading operation impossible, or the response of the operation may become slow.
DENSO WAVE recommends that you use the QR Code following the specifications in the JIS or ISO standard to assure stable reading of the QR Code.
Furthermore, if the QR Code is overlaid with an illustration or design, the resultant code may not be called a QR Code any longer, because there is no standard for doing this kind of operation. Although DENSO WAVE waives its rights to QR Codes as long as they follow the JIS or ISO standard, this is not necessarily the case with codes that do not follow the standard. DENSO WAVE may decide to exercise its patent rights against such codes.
If you are contemplating arranging an illustration or design involving a QR Code, please consult with DENSO WAVE about your project beforehand.
Can I use QR Codes in foreign countries?
Yes, you can.
For matters related to intellectual property rights, please refer to the FAQ "QR Code's intellectual property right."

QR Code's intellectual property right

What procedure do I have to follow to use a QR Code? Do I have to file an application?
No application is necessary to use a QR Code.
You can use the code freely as long as you follow the standards for QR Codes in JIS or ISO.
Is there a fee for using QR Code?
The license to the use of the QR Code stipulated by JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) and the ISO are not necessary.
The specification for QR Code has been made available for use by any person or organization.(Obtaining QR Code Specification)
The word “QR Code” is registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED in Japan and other countries.
To use the word “ QR Code” in your publications or web site, etc, please indicate a sentence QR Code is registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.
This registered trademark applies only for the word “QR Code”, and not for the QR Code pattern (image).
If I use QR Codes for commercial purposes, do I have to pay any usage fee?
The answer is the same as for the question "Is there a fee for using QR Code?", which is "No."
Also, no licensing contract is required for its use.
Is the trademark comment necessary when using QR Code on business card?
The trademark comment is not necessary in case using only QR Code image. No trademark comment is necessary in cases where only a QR Code image is used.
Where should the trademark comment be inserted?
Any space in the media in question.
(e.g)Book/Leaflet – The trademark comment area in the same page as the word "QR Code" would be the best. If it is difficult, put the comment in separate page or the last page.
Poster/Ticket – The trademark comment in anywhere does not effect for the design is acceptable.
For web site, please indicate the trademark comment anywhere in your web site.
Is it permitted to name a merchandise with "QR Code" in it?
To avoid confusion, etc, we recommend the use the word “QR Code” correctly as registered trademark.
You are free to use names like "QR Code ABC" or "QR Code XYZ."
If "QR Code" is included in the merchandise name, however, we recommend adding a comment stating that this is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE in order to avoid any misunderstanding or trouble.

QR Code scanners and code generation software

What type of QR Code scanner should I use?
This depends on your application.
DENSO WAVE manufactures a full lineup of scanning equipment to meet your intended application.
What kind of programs should I use with a QR Code scanner?
QR Code scanner connects to your PC with a RS-232C interface. A capture program is required to capture the data to the PC.
A capture program can be programmed by the customer, or purchased in the form of commercial software.
Do you offer a QR Code scanner with a keyboard interface?
No, we do not offer a scanner with a keyboard interface.
However, keyboards can be used in combination with commercially available keyboard wedge software.
The keyboard wedge software works by converting RS-232C data to keyboard signals.
And you can use the "keyboard interface software" that we are distributing free.
Can QR Codes for mobile phones be generated with a QR Code generating software program?
Yes. It is possible to generate QR Codes that can be read with a mobile phone that comes with a QR Code reading function by using any of the software programs in DENSO WAVE's lineup of QR Code generation software.
What enables this feature is inclusion of commands that can be interpreted by a phone in the data to be encoded.
If all you want to do is display a URL, input the following address, for instance, to a DENSO WAVE's software program directly to generated a QR Code.


Please ask the carrier of your mobile phone service for details of commands that can be interpreted by your phone.
Is the same pattern of QR Codes generated for identical data?
Even if the same data is encoded, QR Codes with different patterns may be generated depending on the QR Code generation software used.
The main reason for this is the difference in the internal expression of QR Code (numeric mode, alphanumeric mode, etc.). If this expression is different, different patterns of QR Code are generated.
In storing character data, the QR Code uses the following 4 kinds of modes.
(For details, see "2D code outline specifications - QR Code" in the User's Manual for QRdraw Ad.)

10 characters, 0 to 9, in numeric mode
10 characters, 0 to 9, 26 characters, A to Z and 9 symbol characters (space, $, %, *, +, -, ., /, :) in alphanumeric mode
JIS characters 8140h-9FFCh and E040h-EAA4h in Kanji mode
00h-FFh in 8-bit byte (binary) mode

The user (QR Code generating side) can choose freely which mode to use for the internal expression when encoding data to generate a QR Code.
Am I allowed to make QR Codes generated with a trial version of software that is publicly available?
You have to be careful about making QR Codes generated with a trial version of software that is publicly available.
Such a program generates a QR Code in a way different from the ordinary encoding of data. Since you cannot tell what kind of data is stored from the appearance of a QR Code, unlike with a barcode, you may end up causing a trouble with a QR Code that is made public because what is coded is different from the data that you expected to be encoded.
If your purpose in making such a code public is to use it as an example of a QR Code (i.e., the purpose is not to encode a particular data), this is not problematic at all. A trial version of a software program must only be used to check operation of the QR Code.

Reading a QR Code with a mobile phone

How about using a mobile phone for reading QR Codes?
How well QR Code can be read with a mobile phone depends, in many cases, on the capability of its camera feature. Therefore, it often is the case that we at DENSO WAVE cannot give you an answer to your inquiry as to reading of the code with your phone.
As for the capability of the camera feature of your phone, please check it with the carrier of your phone or the phone manufacturer.

Printing out a QR Code

How large is a QR Code?
The size of a QR Code can be determined from the size of its modules and the version of the code. A module refers to a black or white square dot making up the code. Which version to use depends on the amount of data to be encoded. Version 1 QR Code has 21 modules on its side.
For a one step larger version of the code, the number of modules on the side increases by 4, and the largest version is 40. Version 2 QR Code, for instance, is made up of 25 x 25 modules. Provided the size of a module is 0.5 mm, the size of this version of the code is 12.5 x 12.5 mm (a white space worth 4 modules is needed around it if you actually want to put it to use).

For more detail, please see 'Point for setting the module size'
How small can a QR Code be printed?
This depends on the capability of the printer used for printing the QR Code and the QR Code reader used to read a printed QR Code.
The size of a QR Code is determined from the module size and its version (see 'Symbol Version Information capacity and versions of the QR Code').
Therefore, if you make the module size smaller, your can reduce the QR Code to whatever size you require.
To achieve this, however, you need an ultra high precision printer and a laser marker. Even if this is achieved, the resolution of your code reader has to match this ultra high resolution of the printed QR Code. If the resolution is insufficient to read the code, there is no sense printing the QR Code to such a high precision. Considering the present capability of printers and QR Code readers, the smallest printed QR Code would be made up of 0.03 mm modules.

For more detail, please see 'Point for setting the module size', 'Point for determining the code area'
Is it possible to print out a QR Code using gravure printing or a inkjet printer?
There is no restriction on the printing method as far as printing the QR Code is concerned. You can use whatever printing method you want, including gravure printing and offset printing.
Is it problematic to use colors (red, blue, etc.) other than black and white when printing a QR Code?
It sometimes is possible to read QR Code printed with a particular combination of colors. QR Code scanners use red light to capture the image of a QR Code. Therefore, if a color combination is such that both background color and QR Code color reflect (or absorb) red color, the QR Code cannot be detected, making it impossible to read the code.
This also means that, if the color combination is such that the background color reflects red and the QR Code color absorbs it, it is possible to read the code.
It is impossible to read a QR Code with the combination of white background and a red QR Code or with a green background and blue QR Code. It may sometimes be possible to read a QR Code with the combination of a white or yellow background and blue or green QR Code.
However, the deepness of the color also affects the readability. Therefore, detailed experimentation is necessary before actually using colored QR Codes.
Basically, please print out your QR Codes with black on a white background.
If printed out QR Codes are designed to be read with mobile phones, please direct this question to the mobile phone carriers or manufacturers as well.
Is it possible to read QR Codes printed on a transparent bag?
Generally speaking, it is rather difficult to read this kind of code, although it depends also on the condition under which they were printed.
The reading of QR Codes is based on the difference between the amount of light reflected by the black and white areas. If a QR Code is printed on a transparent material, a sufficient amount of relected light cannot be obtained from the areas that are usually white.
If the trasparent material is vinyl or the like, any glistening on this material may interfere with the reading of the QR Code.
QR Codes printed on a bag are often skewed unlike those printed on a box and the like. This contributes also to difficulty in reading.
To make this kind of QR Code as readable as possible, print a white background as well as black areas. Alternatively, you can affix a label with a QR Code printed on it. When reading a QR Code on a bag, flatten the bag as much as possible so that any distortion in the code is removed.