Ranged & Ready

EP1 - GS1 EAN13 barcodes

There’s more than just a little “beep” to these black and white bars!

I’m sure all of us have purchased a product in our weekly shop, then watched it become a problem at the checkout because the barcode isn’t scanning. The checkout operator frowns as they have to key in the code, so much extra effort!

What may seem like a trivial matter, is in fact, a problem for supermarkets and suppliers. If your barcode is defective, it causes problems for stores and is a ‘strike one’ for your product!

Where to Place Your Barcode

All the best information about barcodes can be found here on the GS1 website, which should be where you got your barcode in the first place, but there are a few things you can do to make your product ultra-easy to scan.

Being a designer, I try to find the most un-awesome place for a barcode because it literally goes with NOTHING in the brand. Seriously it’s like taking a beautiful cake and then being forced to put a Brussel sprout somewhere. Obviously, the best place for a barcode is on the back of your product, but there are a few things to consider than just where to put it.

  • Never put barcodes less than 10mm from the edge of a label, box or packet.
  • Make sure artwork is not covering any part of the barcode. It should be kept well clear of any of the bars and numbers. Put a nice tidy white or contrasting coloured box behind your code.
  • Don’t obscure the barcode with any form of packaging. Muesli bar sleeves with a flap seal are notorious for this! Ensure your barcode is printed on the upper side of the flap, so no one needs to lift it to scan.
  • Do NOT use red on your barcodes! The scanner works with red light and cannot scan red barcodes. Honestly, it’s best to keep it black and white unless you are familiar with barcodes.
  • Size matters! There are specific sizes and ratios that the barcodes MUST conform to for easy scanning. A list of these is available through GS1, but ALL good designers should know these off by heart. We agree that the barcodes are big and ugly, but it’s a necessary evil, and we’ll cry about it later.
  • Orientation of the bars should be landscape or ladders (i.e. vertical). Never on an angle; that’s just weird.


How to Test Your Barcode

Luckily, GS1 has a service where you can test and verify your barcode to be sure it scans. You can find that here. There is a small cost but, it’s worth getting it right!

Haven't Got a Barcode and Unsure Where to Start?

That’s totally fine! Just flick me a message, and I shall show you the way.