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In Business Operations Last updated: March 7, 2023
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Whenever people hear the terms ‘Data Matrix’ and ‘QR code,’ many assume that they are the same. However, they are not the same and have several key differences. Now you might wonder, which one should you use? Well, you can get that answer by understanding what these two 2D codes do and their advantages. Below, we will discuss that and help you choose between the two.

What is a QR code?

A Quick Response or QR code is another type of 2D code that utilizes black cells that arrange themselves in a square grid over a white-colored background.


In 1994, the Denso Corporation of Japan invented the QR code. These codes are capable of storing a maximum of 4,296 alphanumeric characters. More rows and columns on a QR code indicate an increased amount of data stored on it.

What is a Data Matrix?

A Data Matrix code is a type of 2D code that utilizes black and white cells that usually follow a square pattern of arrangement. Nonetheless, one can find rectangular patterns as well.

Sample of a Data Matrix code

US-based company International Data Matrix, Inc. invented Data Matrix in 1994. More rows and columns on the code signify an increased amount of stored data. But it has a limit, that is, 2,335 alphanumeric characters. The L-shape following its borders is known as its finder pattern. This finder pattern helps scanners identify and read the Data Matrix code.

Where to use a Data Matrix code?

Data Matrix codes see widespread usage in labeling small items as they are capable of encoding 50 characters in a graphic symbol at 2-3 millimeters. Also, they are readable with just a 20% contrast ratio. These make Data Matrix codes ideal for many uses. Some of these uses are:

  • On medical or surgical equipment
  • On airplane parts
  • On digital postage stamps
  • For laser marketing
  • For mobile marketing purposes, using Semacodes
  • For labeling small to medium-sized electronic goods

Where to use a QR code?

Nowadays, one can find QR codes almost everywhere around them. Being capable of storing various types of information, QR codes see many different uses. Here are some of the purposes you can use QR codes:

  • For authenticating online accounts
  • For implementing 2-step verification
  • For storing your bank account/credit card information and sending/receiving payments
  • On business cards to store your contact details
  • On the packaging of various items
  • On presentations at conferences

Functionalities and advantages of Data Matrix codes

Data Matrix codes utilize an alternate structure for their recognition points. The L-shaped pattern on the left and bottom of these codes can contain a maximum of 2,335 alphanumeric characters. Data Matrix codes have a tiny format of just 10×10 pixels.

Data Matrix codes are about the products themselves. That means they will help you see product information upon scanning them. Their small format makes them ideal for labeling small items and decreasing consumables use. When someone scans these omnidirectional codes with a scanner, they get auto-redirected to any stored information.

  • Data Matrix codes are known for having a higher density. Therefore, they take up less space than barcodes.
  • Data Matrix codes are still readable even if they are up to 30% damaged.
  • These 2D codes can encode letters, numerical data, and other ASCII characters. So, naturally, they are multipurpose.
  • These codes are omnidirectional. Thus, a scanner can read a Data Matrix code from any angle.
  • Data Matrix codes have high scalability. Hence, they are the perfect choice for small part and package labeling purposes.

Functionalities and advantages of QR codes

QR codes use four black-and-white square patterns in each corner. However, the fourth square is less visible than the other three. QR codes are capable of storing 7,089 numeric or 4,296 alphanumeric characters. This type of 2D code can store many types of info and perform various actions.

Barcode scanners or even smartphones can read QR codes with ease. Similar to Data Matrix codes, QR codes auto-redirect users to any information stored on them upon scanning. While Data Matrix codes store information about the products, QR codes can store any type of information, including links, PDFs, etc.

Just like Data Matrix codes, QR codes have numerous benefits. These include:

  • QR codes are versatile and can help you with your various needs, such as contact information, website links, geolocation with maps, and many more.
  • QR codes have an error correction facility. This enables scanners to read them easily, even when some parts of the code have improper reading.
  • Like Data Matrix codes, QR codes are also omnidirectional. Therefore, scanning devices can read them from any angle.
  • One can scan these codes using their smartphone anytime, anyplace.
  • These codes are a free, easy way to embed any type of media you can think of.

Difference between Data Matrix codes and QR codes

As we mentioned, there are a few key differences between Data Matrix and QR codes. Let us now see those differences:

Difference in terms ofData Matrix codes  QR codes  
SizeMinimum – 10×10 cells Maximum – 144×144 cellsMinimum – 21×21 cells Maximum – 177×177 cells
Readability  Readable with 20% contrast and even 30% damage  Readable with 40% contrast and 7-30% damage  
Security  More secure  Slightly less secure  
Structure  B&W cells following a square or rectangular pattern, L-shape on the left and at the bottom  4 B&W square patterns in each corner  
Maximum error correction level  33%  30%  
Increments  2 cells  4 cells  
Maximum storage  Numeric characters – 3,116 Alphanumeric characters – 2,335 Binary characters – 1,556
Kanji/kana characters – Unsupported
Numeric characters – 7,089 Alphanumeric characters – 4,296 Binary characters – 2,953
Kanji/kana characters – 1,817

Tools to generate Data Matrix

Here are some tools that can help you generate a data matrix easily:

Data Matrix codes provide users with several excellent benefits. Below are some of those benefits:

#1. ReadyStream Data Matrix Generator Tool

ReadyStream Data Matrix Generator Tool helps users create Data Matrix codes to expand their system capability. Once generated, these Data Matrixes are ready to integrate with any SOP. Users can also print and attach them to an item and test it.

Due to the built-in volume calculator, this tool is particularly useful for creating data matrix codes for pharmaceutical and biotechnology-based products.


Generating Data Matrixes using ReadyStream® is nothing complex. Users just have to provide their test data and calculate volume, and the tool will generate a Data Matrix code. You can later print this code in PDF or PNG format and paste it on the product. And the best part? It is completely free to use.

#2. Aspose Data Matrix Code Generator

Aspose Data Matrix Code Generator is a free-of-cost online app that assists users in generating Data Matrix codes. This handy tool is an easy, efficient way to add machine reading tags to different items and documents. Interestingly, Aspose Data Matrix Code Generator supports vector and raster output image formats.


In addition to it, the app supports various output formats, including .jpeg, .png, .emf, .gif, .bmp, and so on. Aspose makes the Data Matrix process hassle-free. All you have to do is to enter your code text, pick the barcode type and size, and click the ‘Generate Barcode’ button. Within a few moments, you will get your Data Matrix code.

#3. EasierSoft – Free Bulk Online DataMatrix Barcode Generator

EasierSoft is a great way to create Data Matrix codes in bulk for free online. This useful Data Matrix generator lets you print various barcode labels to use wherever you like. Interestingly, you can even print barcode labels on ordinary A4 papers using inkjet/laser printers.


Instead of entering thousands of label contents individually, EasierSoft empowers users to enter them at once. It achieves so by utilizing the first barcode data the user enters in Excel and auto-generate a barcode number sequence.

Tools to generate QR codes

There are a plethora of tools to generate QR codes available out there. Here are a few of them:

#1. QR Code Generator

QR Code Generator is a free online tool that helps users generate QR codes. This tool supports both static and dynamic QR codes. Also, it supports analytics, tracking, vCards, etc. QR Code Generator’s static QR codes are standalone, meaning that users can use them without depending on any reference to their services.


Dynamic QR codes, however, are tied to a user’s account and come encoded with a link to their services. This allows users to update their dynamic QR code content later and view scan statistics. If you don’t want people scanning your dynamic QR codes to see QR Code Generator’s branding before seeing your content, you can purchase their paid plan.

#2. QR Code Generator by Bitly

Bitly’s QR Code Generator allows you to make your QR codes for free by providing either your website or text. QR codes generated by this application are editable and trackable with full branding and customization features. Additionally, if you want to know how successful your QR code is, you can use the ‘Scan tracking’ feature.


#3. QR Code Generator by’s QR Code Generator is an excellent, free way to make QR codes by providing URL, text, vCard, contact info, etc. Outputs are available in EPS/SVG vector graphic and PNG/JPEG/GIF raster graphic formats.’s QR Code Generator also lets you embed your QR code directly on your site. The tool utilizes encryption during transmission. Hence, it never stores your QR code data.


Author’s note

Data Matrix and QR codes are widely used in various industries and for multiple purposes. When it comes to security, readability, and ECL, Data Matrix codes have the edge over QR codes.

However, in numerous other aspects like size options, scalability, flexibility, product inventory management, storage, full-scale customization, etc., QR codes win. So, from an overall perspective, QR codes are a better choice.

As you can see, both Data Matrix and QR codes have their uses. So, you have first to identify your specific needs and then refer to our article to choose your ideal 2D code.

You may also check these QR code APIs.

  • Samyak Goswami
    Samyak is an engineer, tech lover, and content writer. He has the eye to see certain nuances in everyday tech that most people simply ignore.
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