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QR Codes

This document is intended to guide users on the creation of Quick Reponse (QR) codes, customization options, tips for tracking and general best practices. QR codes are used to connect an individual to online content, typically from a printed product like a magazine, direct mail piece, postcard or signage. Online content may be video, audio file, webpage, fundraising form, email signup and much more!

Project Planning:

Consider ALL digital/URL needs at the beginning, even if links are not yet live. Gather them in a single document so there’s no confusion as to which links are used for each function and to ensure accuracy of QR code intended destination.

  • URL destination (full URL) - the webpage/content to be linked to.
  • Vanity URL (likely to be used in print alongside QR code or by itself) - short, easy to remember, but leads to URL destination.
  • QR Code URL (only used to create and track QR code) - this should be the full URL with campaign tags for optimal tracking results. Once created and tagged, run through URL shortener (ex. or To apply campaign tags, submit request via Marketing Request Portal or use the Campaign Tag Generator.
  • File Name - Your QR code file should be clearly distinguishable from others to avoid confusion.

Examples from FY20 Annual Report planning document:

Page 8 - (topic) People are rallying to save the waters that have always sustained them.
Vanity URL:
QR Code:
File Name: FY20AR-QR-code-p8.eps

Page 12 - (topic) TNC science illuminates a clean energy future for planet Earth
Vanity URL:
QR Code:
File Name: FY20AR-QR-code-p12.eps



QR codes, by default are square, black and white.

Customizable designs are available through a number of websites.

Commonly used creation and customization site (free) - QR Code Monkey

Create and Tweak the visual layout of QR code:

Standard adjustments include the “body shape” of the code, allowing morphing to the barcoding in the middle, as well as “eye frame” and “eye ball” shape and/or color. Adding TNC icon to center of QR code is also an option. TNC Color Palette includes hex color values that may be applied for color styling on the “eye frame” and “eye ball.”


Minimum size of .75” x .75” in layout/design (for print), allowing .25” clear zone around all edges. Larger is always fine, just consider your design space accordingly.


File Format:

  • .EPS file for use in print applications (magazine, postcard, banner, signage, nametags)
  • .PNG* file for Powerpoint presentation or other non-print applications, such as on screen during conference/meeting/presentation/event.
    (*.PNG files are good for sharing with team for visual review and testing as not all staff can open .EPS files on their computer)


Provide Context/Instruction:

Include instructions in print, don’t presume someone knows what to do.

Call-to-Action (WHY scan the code?)

  • “Scan for video” (watch)
  • “Scan code to hear from an expert/locals/animal call” (watch/listen)
  • “Scan here to stay informed” (sign-up, collect email)
  • “Scan here to check-in/say hello” (guest book, interact, collect email)

Best Practices for Success

1. QR code should have good contrast against background.

(Ex. Don’t place Orange code against yellow background.)

2. A shorter URL creates fewer, larger dots in QR code, resulting in better/faster scans.

Create the full URL with appropriate campaign tags and then run through a URL shortener like or

Reminder: Use the Marketing Request Portal or the Campaign Tag Generator.


  • “Open camera on smartphone and hover over QR code”
  • “Tap banner to access content”

Icons may be helpful, but are not required. Include a URL or alternate connection method (text “keyword” to 88767). URL should be distinguishable from QR code for analytics and reporting purposes.


Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3:

Share the QR code with at least 4 or more users on different devices for scanability testing. Share QR code in layout at intended final size. Target users with different OS platforms (Android OS or iOS systems) and different hardware models (iPhone 12, Galaxy S10E, iPad, etc).



URL should either be fully unique to QR code or have campaign tag applied to enable analytics review on QR code performance separately from other campaign elements or contact methods.