Barcode Colour Guide

The optimal colour combination for barcodes is black bars on a white background.   Barcode Scanners use infra-red light to read barcodes.  Only certain colour combinations will scan, while others will not be picked up at all (see the charts below).

Barcode Colour combination guidelines –

– Warm colours such as yellow, red and orange cannot be seen by a scanner.  These are only appropriate for backgrounds.
– Cool colours such as blue, green and purple can be seen by a scanner. These are appropriate for the vertical bars.
– Sufficient contrast between the bars and background is required to ensure a good scan.  The vertical bar colour must be considerably darker than the background colour.  Temporarily converting your barcode image to greyscale in graphics software can indicate if you have sufficient contrast.
– The vertical bars must all be the same colour.
– Reflective surfaces and metallic inks cause light to be reflected back to the scanner.  It is best not using these to avoid scanning issues.

Please Note: Smartphone scanning apps do not work the same way as retail scanners.  This is because Android & IOS scanning apps use a phone’s camera, not infra-red light. If a colour combination scans on a smartphone app this does not automatically mean it can be scanned using a retail scanner.  We suggest testing artwork proofs on a retail scanner or arranging an interim barcode verification report.

If you are uncertain about a colour combination please contact us.

Combinations that will scan –

Combination that won’t scan –


Company Prefix

A company prefix comprises the first few digits of a barcode number and can be between 5 and 11 digits long (variable length prefix). Company prefixes are often used to indentify a company within an EDI system.   In most cases a company prefix is not required as the majority of retailers simply require a globally unique barcode number to represent the product being sold.  However some larger retailers using EDI systems may require a vendor to have a company prefix.

Generally companies can obtain a globally unique company prefix via direct membership with GS1.  The prefix issued by GS1 is then used by the company to create product codes such as EAN-13 and UPC-A.  Unfortunately direct GS1 membership is an expensive option for small businesses and requires ongoing annual fees to maintain the prefix.

Obtaining a Company Prefix with Oz Barcodes

Packages of 10, 100 or 1000 purchased through Oz Barcodes will include a globally unique prefix.  With these packages there’s no need to create product codes as the full barcode numbers supplied includes the company prefix, product code and final check digit.  The numbers are allocated as follows.

10 package will include an 11 digit company prefix with number allocation 0 – 9 (for up to 10 unique products)
100 package will include a 10 digit company prefix with number allocation 00 – 99 (for up to 100 unique products)
1000 package will have a 9 digit unique company prefix with number allocation 000 – 999 (for up to 1000 unique products)

Barcode Verification

Barcode Verification is a test that determines the quality of a printed barcode on a product’s packaging.  A barcode verifier machine is used to scan the printed barcode several times at varying angles and gives an ISO grade (4 – 0 / A – F) on a Barcode Verification Report.  The lower the resulting grade the more likely the barcode will have scanning difficulties.   Having an acceptable verification report is often a prerequisite to supplying larger retailers.  Major retailers typically require printed barcodes to have an ISO grade of 1.5 or higher.
Barcode Verification reports can also indicate what needs to be done to improve barcode quality.  Common causes for failed barcode verification include:

– Removal or reduction of the quiet zones (the white space either side of the code)
– Truncating the code e.g. significantly reducing the height of the barcode
– Incorrect colour combination (black bars on white background is ideal)
– Poor print resolution
– Excessive print bleed
– Incorrect check digit or non standard encoding e.g. an incorrect format
– Barcode is placed over a corner, obscured by shrink wrap or printed on an uneven surface rendering it unreadable

The EAN-13 and UPC-A barcode images we supply will pass a verification report given they are printed correctly (within 80% – 200% magnification) and not adversely altered at the graphic design stage.

Where to obtain a Barcode Verification Report

GS1 run verification reports regardless of where the barcode number is sourced.  Verification reports can also be sourced outside of GS1 meeting most retailer requirements.  Examples of this would be Coles, Bunnings, Dan Murphys who all stock products using re-seller codes. For more information please visit.

The barcode images we supply are guaranteed to pass a Barcode Verification report with a very high grade (commonly ISO grade 4) provided the print quality is sufficient and the images have not been negatively altered.

If you obtain a verification report from GS1 it will show N/A in the “GS1 Company Prefix” row. This simply means that you have not obtained the code directly from GS1 – as you have purchased it through Oz Barcodes.

Label Printing Options

The barcode images we supply are generally intended for inclusion on product artwork files such as Photoshop “.psd” or Adobe Illustrator “.ai” files.  However you can import the images or barcode numbers into label making templates or enter the numbers into label making software.  When printing to labels directly there are a few options as outlined below.

DIY – You can print your barcodes from your laptop, Mac or PC. If you have already printed your artwork then you can pick up label template sheets from an office supply store.   Just make sure the template can safely fit the supplied images with adequate quiet zones (white sections) on either side of the codes and be sure to use the highest resolution settings possible when printing and test scan prior to mass printing.  If size is an issue we can resize your codes to your particular specification within limits.  Using at home labels however increases the chances of fading and scratching potentially reducing the barcode’s ability to scan correctly at POS.

LABEL PRINTER + SOFTWARE – You other option would be to obtain a label printer for your business such as a Dymo that will have bundled software to enter the barcode numbers into and print. Prices for these range from $100 – $600. These are thermal transfer so the labels are more durable.  You can obtain the models below at most office supply stores or online.

Brother TD-4000
Zebra GC420D

LABEL PRINTING SERVICE – If you don’t have access to a higher resolution printer solution and want a completely professional job then we would suggest getting the labels professionally printed.  Our recommendation for professional barcode printing is Peacock Bros or Labelhouse (melbourne).

EAN-13 and UPC-A Size Specifications

Our standard EAN-13 and UPC-A barcode packages are supplied at 100% magnification (37.29mm x 25.93mm).

For printing barcodes GS1 advises a minimum of 80% magnification and a maximum of 200% magnification.  We suggest following this guideline if your product packaging can reasonably accomodate it.

There are however many products in the supply chain that break with these guidelines to meet size constraints of product packaging or lables.

The smallest minimum barcode size we are able to supply is 10mm x 20mm.  It should be noted if you reduce your codes below the recommended amount you may run into scanning issues in future depending on the scanner.  The more truncated or smaller the code the less likely the code will scan properly e.g. a small truncated barcode alongside a pen may not scan correctly until the pen is straightened out for the infared scanner to read horizontally.

The supplied .EPS file is optimal for resizing.

The 2540 DPI EPS file supplied can be size adjusted in graphic editing software without loss of image quality, given that the proportions of the barcode are not altered. When truncating a barcode please ensure the barcode is cut (across the top) rather than dragging the edges around to fit as altering it proportionally can negativley affect scanning.