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Rendering QR Codes in PDF versus EPS format

and why we deprecated the EPS format...

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4 Minutes
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Rendering QR Codes in PDF versus EPS format

If you want to print QR Codes in a professional way, you should use a scale-able format. This is when vector formats like PDF, EPS or SVG become handy. We have already written an article about the advantages of rendering QR Codes in vector formats instead of raster formats like PNG or JPG. This article will explain what vector format will make sense in which scenario and why we deprecated the EPS format.

TLTR: Use QR Codes in PDF format when you want to print or edit them in a third party software like Adobe Illustrator or InDesign.

Vector Formats

SVG QR Codes

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an XML-based vector image format mainly used on websites to display images or icons that look always sharp and crisp no matter which device resolution is used. Moreover, SVG images have a small file size (usually less then 20kb) compared to raster formats like JPG images. SVG uses the RGB-color model because it is mainly displayed in web browsers.


If you click on the SVG QR Code above, the image will open in a new browser tab. Zoom into the QR Code by holding the command-key on a Mac or the ctrl-key on a PC while spinning your mouse wheel. You will see that the QR Codes is always crisp no matter how much you zoom in. Moreover, SVG supports animations - you can for example embed an animated logo in a QR Code.

PDF QR Codes

Like SVG, the Portable Document Format (PDF) is another vector-based format developed by Adobe based on the PostScript language in 1992. Like images in the SVG format, PDF files are commonly used in the web, like for publications, manuals and many other documents. However, PDF is also a format used in Adobe products like Illustrator or InDesign to create print-ready documents for offset printing. QR Codes rendered in the PDF format can perfectly be used in professional editor software for further processing. Click on the following QR Code in PDF-format. Once opened you will see that the QR Codes stay crisp no matter how much you zoom in.


EPS QR Codes

Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) is a PostScript document format usable as a graphics file vector format developed in 1987 by the founders of Adobe. Like the PDF format, EPS can be used for offset printing using the CMYK color model. Both formats can be imported into Illustrator and InDesign.

However, EPS is a proprietary format, and needs special third-party software to be viewed on most systems. EPS files can natively only be viewed on a Mac, which converts the EPS file into a PDF document first before viewing.

PDF and EPS QR Code comparison

When rendering complex Designer QR Codes in various colors, gradients, shapes and with logos inside or frames around the QR Codes there are limitations in rendering. Since both file types are equal when it comes down to further processing in Adobe products, we decided to remove EPS support for the following reasons.

Transparent Backgroundsupportedsupported
Gradientstruly vector basedrasterized
Filesizesmall> 10 times bigger
Rendering timefast> 100 times slower
Native view supportMost Browsers and operating SystemsMac only


When you want to place a QR Code on an existing design you might need a transparent background in the QR Code so that when placing the code, he will integrate better in the existing design. Both, EPS and PDF format, support transparent backgrounds. The following image shows a designer QR Code with blue pixels and a transparent background.

QR Code with blue pixels and transparent background
QR Code with blue pixels and transparent background


When it comes down to fanciness, gradients can make QR Codes really look cool. However, when rendering QR Codes in EPS format the gradients cannot be preserved in true vector format like QR Codes in PDF format. The following example shows you a QR Code rendered in PDF on the left and in EPS on the right. When zooming into the QR Codes the gradient of the EPS QR Code will get blurred.

EPS and PDF gradient QR Code
Gradients in EPS format on the right are not true vector based and therefore blur when zooming

File size

PDF QR Codes are much smaller than EPS QR Codes and therefore use less disc space and can be transferred faster in the web, especially when it comes to mass rendering of QR Codes.

Rendering time

A designer QR Code in PDF format need less then 100 milliseconds to render, whereas a complex QR Code in EPS format sometime needs more than 10 seconds to complete rendering.

Deprecated EPS format - long live the PDF format :)

For the reasons listed above we decided to stop providing QR Codes in EPS format.

  • EPS QR Codes need too long to render
  • they are bigger in file size
  • they do not support gradients in pure vector format
  • they cannot be viewed on most systems without third party software

Please use the PDF format when you want to process the QR Codes in third party software.

But I miss the EPS format :( What can I do?

We provide a simple QR Code Generator in EPS format where you can still create black and white QR Codes. For fancy designer QR Codes use our Designer QR Code Generator supporting the SVG, PDF and PNG format.

We are very grateful for feedback. Leave us a message about your use of EPS QR Codes in the bottom right corner of the chat window and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Last update 1 year ago