How to create a PDF QR Code

QR codes are here to make life easier. You and your business can benefit greatly by using QR codes to provide information and direct customers to where they need to go. There are many ways you can use QR codes, for example, presenting a catalogue, an instructions manual or even redirecting to a PDF form, and for all your QR code needs we are here to help guide you.

Quick QR code overview

So, what is a QR code and how do they work?

QR quite literally means quick response, users want to experience quick and easy access to files, forms, landing pages and more. This is what a PDF QR can do better than other types of QR codes; they are the simplest way to give access to the information you wish to share.

A QR code is a two-dimensional version of a barcode. QR Codes are scan-able using any smartphone device that has a built-in camera. The codes are generated by an online QR code generator that encodes the information for a QR Code reader. A QR code can be linked back a variety of information or platforms including web pages, online forms and PDFs. QR codes most recently have been effectively used to allow quick and easy sign-ins at restaurants, cafes, hotels and so on during the Covid-19 global pandemic. 2020 saw a huge rise in QR code usage and demand, in fact, a September 2020 survey of consumers in the U.S. and the UK found that almost 32% of respondents had scanned a QR code in the past week. Allowing customers to scan the code and sign in also gives businesses a chance to collect possible valuable data on when and why people are visiting their establishments.

What is a PDF QR code?

Arguably the simplest, most basic way to convey important information with a large number of customers or users is with a PDF QR code.

Scan this QR Code to access our Factsheet PDF. Yes, it is that easy.

You or your business can share direct information to your target audience at almost any point of service. This kind of QR solution can also be very useful in cataloguing information you wish to share with your audience. It allows you to share any PDF document with a simple scan. For example, if you are at a conference, you can share your PowerPoint or any extra information for your audience by having a QR code displayed in or around your presentation. A PDF QR code can act as a digital representation of your chosen PDF document using an QR code generator. They are very easily scan-able using a smartphone and will automatically display the PDF file directly to the user’s screen. You can also customise the design of your QR code to make it look visually appealing. Adding design elements to your QR is highly recommended, especially if you’re using it for promotional reasons.

How to create a PDF QR code?

Creating a PDF QR Code is done in 4 steps:

  1. Head to our website and register for a free account.
  2. Once you have created an account, head to your dashboard and select “Create a QR code”.
  3. From the QR code types listed on the left select PDF.

    QR Code PDF creation
  4. Upload the PDF directly from your computer. If you click on “Upload PDF” a dialog will popup, that allows you to select from a list of PDF files or upload a new PDF document. When you click “Add PDF” the selected PDF file will be used for your QR Code. If you have your PDF document already uploaded somewhere else, you can paste the URL as an alternative.
    Upload a PDF file

    You can click now “Create QR Code” or fine tune your PDF QR Code by setting more options. There are 2 ways you can present your PDF file when a user scans the PDF QR Code. Either through a direct download or a intermediate landing page.

Direct Download

If you want the PDF document being downloaded directly you can turn on the direct download option for iPhone, Android or other devices. Direct download works well with Apple devices, since they can display the PDF file directly in the browser after scanning the QR code. This option is not recommended on Android devices, since a download usually takes place in the background and the PDF file is not immediately displayed.

PDF Landing Page

A more user-friendly approach is to display an intermediate landing page, that allows you to share general information about the PDF document before the user can view or download your PDF file. The following screenshot shows you a comparison between an intermediate landing page versus the direct download option.

PDF Landing Page vs Direct PDF download
Landing page for a QR Code PDF and direct download of the PDF file

Landing page customisation

You can select a title image, button colour, add a website link and choose the privacy settings of your PDF QR code. If you want that people can share the PDF file easily just turn on the share option.

Creating a PDF QR Code, Sharing Options
Customise the content and design of your PDF QR Code landing page

Second to last on this page you will see a drop-down menu for the medium of your QR code. This has no effect on the code but is used for your internal information.

Once you have inputted all the necessary information you will see an option to set a custom shortened URL. This is where you can customise the URL that is encoded in the QR code instead the one automatically generated with a random alphanumeric value. Use a custom shortened URL to best reflect the PDF you are sharing. So, when a user scans the QR Code, you can show him already for example the title of the PDF file in the URL, which will gain trust in opening the link.

Replace a PDF in the QR Code

The beauty of dynamic QR Codes is that you can change the content at any point in time without printing the QR Code again. A PDF QR Code is a dynamic QR Code as well and here you find a quick guide how to change the PDF file of an existing QR Code.

  1. Head to your user dashboard and select QR codes from the side menu. Here you will see the QR code you created.
    How to edit a PDF QR Codes
  2. Show the options for your code and select edit. This will take you to a page similar to the one you used to create your QR code.
  3. If you want to replace your PDF with a more recent version, here is where you can re-upload a new PDF document. Just click on “Replace PDF” and select an existing PDF file from the dialog box or upload a new PDF.
  4. Optionally you can change the title as well as the descriptions, the sharing options, the download options, tags and medium.
  5. Once you have made the applicable changes, you can click save.

PDF QR Code Analytics

Besides the possiblity to update the destination URL, a dynamic QR Code provides Besides the possibility to update the destination URL, a dynamic QR Code provides valuable insights on how your PDF QR Code is performing on your printed material.

QR Code PDF scan statistics
Go to Options > Statistics to view scan statistics for a specific QR Code or folder.

Once you create a PDF QR Code you can check the QR Code scan statistics in real time through your dashboard, download the report as a CSV file or create your own reports in a third-party solution via our API.

You only need to go to Options > Statistics and you will obtain:

  • Number of Unique downloads
  • Number of Total Scans
  • Average Scan rate/day
  • Device info (Brand, Model Browser and OS)
  • Location of the scan (optional GPS coordinates)
  • Sharing statistics. When you activate the Sharing button you will see which channel your PDF is shared the most.
QR Code PDF shares

Ways to make your PDF QR code stand out

Use eye catching design
There are many different design options for your PDF QR Code. We have templates as well as tools to use different colours and patterns. You can customize your QR code to represent your brand or business. Your QR code should stand out and you can get all the information on how to create a designer QR code here.

Add a logo, image or icon
Adding a logo, image or icon can help distinguish your PDF QR code from any other. It’s a great marketing tool and can help make your code more professional too. Show off your brand or purpose by adding one of these.

PDF QR Code with logo

Consider size
Size does matter, especially when you are printing out your PDF QR code as you don’t want it to be too big or too small. If it’s too small, a smart device might not be able to read it properly. This can happen if there are too many elements on your QR code and it hasn’t been optimized to the right specifications.

Minimum QR Code size

PDF QR codes are dynamic by nature. That data isn’t directly stored in the graphics, it contains a short URL that takes users to online information. This information is stored in the QR Code. When designing your PDF QR code, you should still try and keep the design simple and impactful. Too much going on can be displeasing to the eye and crowding can still make the code difficult to read.

How to use a PDF QR code

Book previews

Book previews are usually found at the back of a book to give readers a small teaser of the authors or publishing houses next novel. Most of these previews are quite small and don’t always provide the details necessary to understand what the book is like or about. Instead of filling those last pages with a full preview, use a PDF QR code and redirect you readers to a bigger, juicier preview of the new book. This can give you a competitive marketing edge over other authors or houses. Readers can simply scan the QR code printed in the book and save it for later to read. If they like it, they might just go grab a copy themselves. You can also advertise other products too, such as kindle versions, audio books or book accessories. QR codes can be added to social media posts, posters, flyers and e-books as well.

pdf QR Code book preview
Offer a teaser of your new novel on a PDF file through a QR Code

Print media

Add value to your magazines, leaflets or flyers by sharing a PDF QR code with them. You can provide more information on a linked PDF document than on a paper. The scanner can be directed to information on your product, business or service with a simple scan.

Digitising printed documents/information

Save money, time and space by generating a QR code with instruction manuals or ingredients lists for your products! Instead of trying to print out every important bit of information for your product either on the box or via paper instructions, you can use a QR code. Using QR codes on product packaging can help consumers trust your brand and help re-target your users to serve them better. Printing hundreds and thousands of manuals for your products can be so time consuming and wasteful. Have all the important information digitalized, readily available and easy to read. No more tiny printing, everything is right there in the PDF file.

qr code in printer media
The content of PDF QR Codes is not limited to the height and width of printed materials

Online conferences or meetings

To avoid filling a presentation with an overwhelming amount of information, you can embed your PDF QR or PowerPoint presentations code into your slides or share it with whoever is watching. They can scan the QR code and have all the information you provided during the conference/presentation or meeting. If you have a lot of data and information to share you don’t have to pack it all into your presentation. By scanning the QR code your audience can have access to the numbers and facts they need while you give your presentation.

Download PDF QR Code
Easiest way to share documentation with an audience without printing the presentation for each participant is using a PDF QR Code.

Benefits of using a PDF QR code

  1. Instant sharing
    A PDF QR code allows for instant sharing. All the information you want your audience to have is right at their fingertips.
  2. PDF is editable
    While the link may need to stay the same, the PDF is editable and can be changed completely too. At any stage you can go back, edit the PDF with new information or even create a new one and upload it to the QR code you created. This is another reason with PDF QR codes are the easiest to use, because they are super easy to maintain as well. If there are any mistakes or if specific information needs to be changed, it can be and you won’t lose access from QR codes already printed and generated.
  3. Improved customer experience
    User experience is so important and both quality and speed are two huge factors in a great customer experience. If a customer can obtain all the information, they need quickly and easily plus be able to have access and store that information anywhere they need, you’ll be sure to get a five star or a happy review.
  4. Track your marketing with a dynamic QR code
    Our service provides great QR Code tracking ability and tools you can use in your marketing plan. Under the QR Code options select statistics and you will find a detailed overview or how and when your PDF QR code has been scanned. You can focus in on your target audience, get an understanding of unique visitors and referrals too.
  5. Digitise important documents
    Instead of having to store hard copy documents or even keep important files on your computer, you can properly digitise them by organising them into a QR code folder. Within our platform you can organise your QR codes on a need-by-need basis. Remember a FREE account will only allow you to create one QR code. If you only want one QR code you can scan in any hard copy documents, create one PDF file and upload it to our generator. This is a great way to both back up your document and have instant and easy access to it. If the information is important or sensitive, then you can add access restrictions such as password protection.


I have created a QR Code that links to a PDF file. Can I change the content of the PDF if the name remains the same?

Yes, you can! The QR code only contains the PDF link which has nothing to do with the content. If the file needs to be edited it can be with no changes to the QR code.

How do I create multi-language PDF QR Code?

You can use the multilingual QR code solution found in the QR code generator, to create a single QR code that launches a different PDF depending on the user’s device. This is a great way to save on time and paper where you won’t have to create different QR codes. Read our tutorial how to create a multi-language PDF QR Code for more details.

How do I add an image in my PDF QR Code instead of the default image?

When creating your PDF QR code, you can add your own cover image to the preview page instead of the PDF thumbnail. You can also do this after you’ve created your QR code by clicking options>edit which will take you to a page where you can make the same change.

Jordi Hernández

Professional Services Manager at


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