How much space do QR Codes need?

27 Jul 2011
by John Foley
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We receive emails daily asking all sorts of questions pertaining to QR Codes. This might include how to add an image to a QR Code, how to add color to a QR Code, etc. The latest email we received was “How much white space should I leave around a QR Code?”. In case you’ve ever wondered that as well, here is the answer we provided!

Certainly, it’s easy to create a QR Code. But is it easy for people to scan your QR Code?

Some of the best practices to ensure that people can scan your QR Codes easily involve sign and color. You’ll want to keep the QR Code large enough on the printed piece (we typically go no smaller than 3/4 of an inch). Also, ensure that the contrast of the colors inside the QR Code is strong. (From our own testing, we try to stick with dark colors. A yellow QR Code might not be scanned as easily as a navy blue one would.) Also, the QR Code should have some “clean” space around all 4 sides.

Here is what we suggest: If possible, keep a quarter inch (.25″) of white space around all four sides of the QR Code. This is enough white space to ensure that it will be scanned easily on almost every smartphone.

Of course, that is not absolutely essential. We’ve certainly printed QR Codes that had a bit less white space around it, and many people were able to scan successfully. However, we’ve also seen this — a QR Code with no white space may be able to be scanned with an iPhone 4, but the same cannot be said with an iPhone 3.

Below is an example of a QR Code with the quarter inch of space around it.

Here is another example of a QR Code with a larger amount of white space around the QR Code. I also added some simple directions next to the QR Code.

When people call us with this problem: “I can’t scan my QR Code”, more times than not it’s because their QR Code is fighting with the background color on their printed piece.

Here is an example of what we do not recommend doing — you may not succeed by placing a QR Code on a dark colored background with no white space. Although this might scan on a few smartphones, it is most likely not going to scan for all phones. The QR Code is fighting with the dark background color.

We hope you find these tips helpful!

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