How To Get A Barcode On
Your Product or Publication
Barcode Basics >
Retail Barcode FAQ
Do I need a barcode?
Although it is not law that you have a barcode on
your retail product or publication, it is
often required by re-sellers and distributors. They use the barcode to efficiently
keep active inventories and sales records.
What kind of barcode should I
For retail products, the standard symbology in the U.S.A. is
UPC-A, or the Universal Product Code.
Internationally, the standard symbology is EAN-13
(European Article Numbering international retail product code).
For marking shipping cartons of retail
products for distribution, the most common symbol is the UPC
Shipping Container Symbol (ITF-14).
For marking shipping containers of all types,
the most commonly-used barcode is
UCC/EAN-128. Different industries often have specific
requirements for barcode labeling, so be sure to get details from
your customers when they ask you to start marking packages or items
For books, the international standard is the
EAN symbology (ISBN barcode).
For periodicals, the international standard symbology is
ISSN (International Standard Serial Numbering ). In
addition to the ISSN code, SISAC (International Standard Serial Numbering) codes are often
found on serial publications.
Where do I get the data (the number)
for the barcode?
For a UPC-A or an
EAN-13 manufacturer number, contact
GS1 (formerly the UNIFORM CODE COUNCIL)
Princeton Pike Corporate Center
1009 Lenox Drive
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Main website: www.gs1.org
Need a barcode page:
To find a local office worldwide:
Before you contact GS1, estimate how many
different numbers you will need for your products. Be sure to get
enough numbers, but remember that the registration fee goes
up for more numbers. Every variation of every product will require a
separate number. For example, if Product ABC is available in three
sizes (small, medium, and large) and in three different colors (red, blue,
green), you will need nine (9) separate numbers... one for each size/color
combination. GS1 will assign you a manufacturer ID number that you
will use as the leading digits in your barcode. You will use
the remaining digits to assign a unique number to each of your
For an ISBN number in the U.S.A., contact
121 Chanion Road
New Providence, NJ 07974
Telephone: (908) 665 - 6770
toll free: (877) 310 - 7333
Telefax: (908) 665 - 3502
ISSN number in the U.S.A., contact the
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
National Serials Data Program
Washington, D.C. 20540-4160
Telephone: (202) 707-6452
Telefax: (202) 707-6333
For an ISSN number outside the U.S.A., contact
ISSN INTERNATIONAL CENTRE
20 rue Bachaumont, 75002 Paris, FRANCE
Telephone: +33 1 44 88 22 20
Telefax : +33 1 40 26 32 43
How do I print barcodes
on my product or publication?
If you will be printing the barcode as part of
your product package or label, you will need artwork that you can paste into the
layout. If you will be using a lot of barcodes, you may want
to invest in software. Search for
barcode artwork software, also have a look at BarCode Pro, a
very good professional program
. If you need just a few barcodes, try an online service like
If you want to print barcode labels and stick
them onto your product or packages, look for
barcode label printing
software. We especially like Bar Tender For Windows (www.seagullscientific.com).
You can print your labels on a regular laser printer (inkjet labels
tend to run if the labels get wet). If you will be printing a
lot of labels in a serious production environment, take a look at
thermal label printers.
We have had good success with Zebra printers (www.zebra.com).