QR Codes

Short for quick response code, a QR Code is a scannable barcode that points to a website. It is commonly used in print marketing materials. Viewers can use the camera or an app on a smartphone or tablet to scan the code which will then open the assigned website URL.  

How to use a QR Code for communications 

QR Codes can be a useful tool in your communications toolbox when used in the right place. Use QR Codes on print pieces to make it easier for someone to directly access digital information from a print piece.

When and where to use QR Codes 

  • Yes: On printed material such as signs, flyers, table displays, mailers, brochures, menu cards, fact sheets, and digital PowerPoint slides.  
  • Yes: To get to: Registrations, surveys, a map, a fact sheet, social media accounts, a video.  
  • Yes: To send someone directly to the content. Example: To the digital event registration form, not to the calendar listing.  
  • No: On graphics that appear on a website or social media. On billboards. 

One exception to the digital graphics rule is PowerPoint slides for in-person presentations. For example, audience members can scan a code that leads to a survey.  

How to apply a QR Code

QR codes are only useful if they work. Consider where the print piece will be placed and where people will be scanning from.  

The QR Code should:

  • Be at least 1” wide 
  • Be black on a solid white background 
  • Not be skewed or tilted 

The source document should:

  • Only have one QR code 
  • Also include a text short URL 
  • Have a call to action to encourage use such as “Scan this to get started”


How to make a QR Code 

There are a variety of ways to make a QR Code. We recommend Extension employees use either WebTools or Canva.  


  • From webtools.illinois.edu, navigate to the Short URL tool 
  • Select the “+Create” yellow button. In the next window that opens, select “go.illinois.edu” as the domain and select the “Create Short URL” blue button.  
  • Add the short URL text in the “name” field and add the website address in the “Long URL” field. Select the “Save” yellow button.  
  • A new field will appear at the bottom called QR Code. Select the box and then select the save button. This will create a code that you can click to open and download.  


  • From www.canva.com, scroll down on the left-side menu. Under “Tools,” select “Discover Apps.” 
  • Enter “QR Code” in the top menu search bar. Select the first option.  
  • Select either “use in existing design” or “use in new design.”  
  • In the left-side menu enter the URL and select “Generate code.” The code will be inserted into the design.