Self-adhesive labels that complement your products

Barcode FAQ

Which barcodes are used in the retail world?

Virtually all of the barcodes used by retailers worldwide are EAN or UPC symbols. These are standardised by the GS1 system, which has other barcodes for use on outer cases and logistics units, such as pallets. Some retailers, such as Lidl, use a very tall version of these symbols on their own label products, while others such as Ikea, use a different barcode, Code 39.


If you need to barcode your own branded products which will be sold in any shop, you will probably need an EAN barcode, but if you are unsure, then please contact us for help and advice.

Where do I obtain my barcode number?

If you need to use EAN barcodes, you will need to become a member of your national GS1 member organisation. For the UK this is GS1 UK, and their website will provide you with the information you need. GS1’s global website,, will provide you with information about all the other GS1 member organisations.


If you need barcodes for other sectors, please contact us, and we will be able to let you know whom you need to contact.

Can I have my barcode produced at any size I choose?

There are standards or best practice guidelines with minimum and maximum sizes for the barcodes you can produce. These restrictions ensure that you will be able to print your barcodes accurately so that they can be easily scanned.


If you are not sure what this means for you, please get in touch, and we will be able to explain what is possible.

What is a light margin or quiet zone?

Most barcodes require a clear area to the left and right of the bars which must not contain any text or other images. These are now called quiet zones, and were previously known as light margins. Not having wide enough quiet zones is a common reason for barcodes failing to scan.

How do I know which colours to

use for my barcode?

While black bars on a white background are a very good combination, your barcode does not have to be black and white. The colour chosen must appear black under red light, so blue and green are possible options. The important thing is to make sure that the colour used for the bars is a pure colour, and not one that is created using a four (or more colour) printing process. You must also make sure that you never reverse-out the image, putting white bars on a black background, because this will not work.


Click here for our barcode colour guide

How do I know my barcode will scan

accurately after it has been printed?

There are international standards for printing barcodes, as they need to be readable by different barcode scanners used worldwide. The quality of the final printed barcode can be checked using a barcode verifier which complies with these ISO/IEC and GS1 standards.


There are companies which will verify individual barcode samples for you, and if you need to verify many barcodes on a regular basis, you can buy your own barcode verifier.

What is a digital image?

A digital image of a barcode is one that can be incorporated into artwork design using dedicated software packages such as Adobe Illustrator.  They are created to be a particular size, and should not be manipulated to make them larger or smaller.

What are barcode symbologies?

Symbologies are different ways of representing data in bar and space patterns.  Some symbologies use only two different widths of bar and space while others use four.  Different symbols have been designed to meet different data encoding requirements, and some are designed to be readable when printed onto poor quality substrates.  The barcodes of the GS1 System are intended for use in open trade, while others such as Code 39 and Code 128 are available for sector-specific or in-house use.


If you are not sure which barcode symbol you need, please ask us, and we will be happy to explain

My artwork has been printed but does

not have a barcode, what should I do?

Our label printing department will be able to produce barcode labels for you that can then be affixed to your products.  There is no minimum order size, and these can be produced very quickly for you.


Please call us on 01869 350442 for help,

or e-mail

Church Road, Weston on the Green

Bicester, Oxfordshire, OX25 3QP, UK

Tel: 01869 350442  Email:

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