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Using QR Codes in Desktop Publishing

How to make good-looking QR codes and use them in a page layout


If you're unfamiliar with QR codes, start with the basics of what they are, how to read them, and how to create them. Then get fancy with your QR codes by discovering what to make them do (you can do more than just send someone to your Web site), how to incorporate them into your desktop publishing documents, and how to turn plain, default QR codes into works of art — or at least something with a bit more personality.

Try scanning the QR codes in all the example graphics throughout these articles. Use different QR code readers to see how they work and if they will work with all these codes. Many will take you to the mobile version of the About.com Desktop Publishing home page but there are few other destinations and actions encoded into some of the images. Can you find them all?

1. QR Code Basics

QR Code for http://desktoppub.about.com
Two examples of a basic black and white QR code.

The QR or Quick Response Code is for smartphone users. It allows businesses and organizations to build a little more interactivity into their print materials. Discover what you need in order to read a QR code and create one for others to scan. This glossary page introduces Quick Response codes with:

  • A brief definition: They started as tracking codes in automotive manufacturing
  • Reading QR Codes: You need a QR code reader or scanner
  • Uses for QR Codes: All kinds of marketing
  • Creating QR Codes: There are plenty of free online QR code generators out there


2. What a QR Code Can Do

QR Code Content Examples
Scan the top and then the bottom QR code. Each one does a different action.

A QR code can do more than just go to a Web page. 

This FAQ page describes nine specific actions you can encode in your Quick Response code and offers a few tips on how best to utilize QR codes when sending consumers to your Web site. Although we want to make pretty codes, it's the content that is the most important element. What will you make your QR code do:

  • Send email
  • Send messages
  • Make a phone call
  • Go to the Web
  • Or, something else?

3. Where to Put a QR Code in Your Document

QR Code for http://desktoppub.about.com/od/seasonalthemes/u/Holiday_Crafts.htm
Find something you can make using desktop publishing — and put a QR code on it.

While there are no absolute rules, there are some best practices for sizing your QR code and integrating it into your page layout whether you are using one QR code or many of them.

This article talks to you about:

  • Size of the QR Code: Bigger is better up to a point
  • Placement of the QR Code: Put your code in close proximity to appropriate content
  • Software for Designing QR Codes: Online and desktop tools

4. How to Alter the Appearance of Your Quick Response Code

Designer QR Code Examples
These are just a few basic examples of what you can do with a QR code to make it look better.

Designer QR codes incorporate color, texture, shape, and other elements of design to turn plain QR codes into something more attractive. Explore five specific ways to change the look of a QR code:

  • Error Correction and Versions: Redundant data and data density affect performance and appearance
  • Contrast and Color: You don't have to stick with black and white
  • Edges and Texture: You can soften the edges
  • Additions and Deletions: Add a logo, text, or graphic
  • Shape and Orientation: Twist and turn with care (but it is possible)

5. Ideas for Using QR Codes for Personal Projects

The name is right there in black and white, right?
You don't have to be a business to have a QR code. Try some of these fun and useful ways to use them (plain or fancy) for parties and other activities. Among the list of personal use QR codes:
  • Name Tags
  • Party Invitations
  • Scavenger Hunt

6. Marketing With QR Codes

There are countless ways you can use your QR codes for your large or small business. Whether you go with the plain, default QR code or create a masterpiece of a designer QR code, our About.com Guides can help you integrate QR codes into your marketing.

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