2D Codes

Martina Mazalik




Nnowadays there is a need for fast information transfer. Mostly because of that fact mass implementation of 2D codes has begun. Usage of 2D codes enables users fast data access and enables businesses to stand out. They are saving considerable space by encoding large amount of data which can reach up to thousands of characters.


They are used in different fields of application mostly because of their capability of storing different kind of data. Except of their application in logistics/distribution, part marking and retail they are used in marketing, media and promotion. For example 2D codes can add value to a certain product by linking it to a web page which can contain more information about product, manual how to use it, some promotion materials and other useful things. 2D codes can also be used as virtual business cards and in cross media campaigns.


There are many different types of 2D codes and they can be put into two main categories of 2D symbologies: stacked codes and matrix codes. The primary differences between stacked and matrix symbols are how they are encoded and how they can be read. There are also many individual symbologies. QR and DataMatrix code are most commonly used in the field of marketing, media and promotion. QR codes are used in both commercial tracking applications and applications aimed at mobile phone users. They can be used to display text to the user, to add a business card contact to the user's device, to open a website or to compose an email or text message. In theory this code can encrypt up to 7089 numeric, 4296 alphanumeric and 2953 binary characters. QR code also has error correction capability to restore data if the code is dirty or damaged. Raising this level of error correction improves error correction capability but also increases the amount of data and QR code size. DataMatrix is also used for encoding large amounts of data. In theory a DataMatrix can store up to 3116 numeric, 2355 alphanumeric and 1556 binary characters. When DataMatix is used for mobile tagging it can store up to 40-45 characters. The more data that is encoded the larger the code becomes. They are mainly used on products and promotional materials to attract new consumers, enhance experience, and provide explanations about products use and benefits and to encourage actions that support marketing plan.

Generating and designing

Generating 2D codes is really easy and mainly it can be done for free by using one of many available web sites that provide this service. Also it is possible to download a program for generating 2D codes. However, making a designer QR or DataMatrix code is a little bit trickier. When coding a designer code there are some design basics that need to be considered so that code could be easily read. One of the most important things when creating a code is its colour, because if contrast between the background and the code is too low code detection will be impossible. Any colour and modular material can be used to design the code. Also adding a logo or a picture in the middle is could affect the code readability. Quiet zone (margin around the QR code) should be 4 modules. 3 detection patterns in corners of a QR code must remain clear. The code can be obscure up to 30% (if using highest error correction level). Any orientation and perspective of a code is also allowed. Designer code can also be anamorphic. It can have distorted cell’s shape. Cells can also be shaped with circles and other shapes. Never the less, designer of a QR code should always print the code and test it with several different scanners and with several mobile phones to see if the code is readable.

Scanning and reading

Different types of 2D codes use different types of scanners and readers. 2D codes can be read with scanners and that way of reading is mostly used for logistics and retail. Most of the 2D code symbologies can read by scanning with mobile phones camera. In that case appropriate software for reading 2D codes must be preinstalled on the mobile phone. If the user does not have appropriate software preinslated on his mobile phone, it can be easily downloaded from the internet and installed on a device. This capability makes 2D codes useful for mobile marketing.