Place the barcode correctly

It is important to know how the barcode should be placed so that it can quickly and efficiently be read by a scanner.

General guidelines for barcode placement

  • The barcode must not be crumpled or folded round a corner.
  • Place the barcode on a flat surface and never round a corner, over a join, perforation, seam or similar.
  • If the package is wrapped in cellophane or other type of film, the join must not be over the barcode.

General guidelines for barcode placement on consumer packages

  • Each package must only have one barcode.
  • If possible, place the barcode at least 8 mm and at most 100 mm from any edge of the package
  • Place the barcode low down on the back of the package, preferably on the right.
  • Avoid placing the barcode on the bottom of the package.

Specific guidelines for barcode placement on certain types of consumer package.

Jars and other cylindrical items with a diameter of less than 12 cm. The recommendation is to orient the barcode as a ladder and not a fence.*

Multipack. When several consumer packages are packed together in a multipack it must not be possible to read the barcodes on the inner packages. Hide the barcodes with the packaging or by packing the inner packages so that the barcodes are turned inwards and are not visible.

Right-angled items. Place the barcode low down on the back of the package, preferably on the right.

Bags and other soft packages. Place the barcode in the middle of the bag where there is least risk of it being crumpled.

Bottles. Place the barcode on the main label or a separate label on the back. Never on a collar round the neck of the bottle.

* If the barcode is oriented as a fence on jars and other cylindrical items with a diameter of less than 12 cm, special values apply for the barcode’s module width (the x-dimension). For more information see GS1 General Specifications version 15, section 6.2.3.2 figure 6.2.3.2-3. To ensure that the barcode is readable, verification with, for example, Validoo BarcodeCheck is recommended.

General guidelines for barcode placement on outer packages

An outer package must be marked so that the barcode can be read even if the package is on a pallet. This means that:

  • At least one side of the outer package must be marked with a barcode.
  • If the package cannot be turned when on a pallet, two sides should be marked with a barcode.
  • The barcode must not be placed on the bottom of the package.

For the grocery sector, if only one side of the package is marked with a barcode then the packages must be stacked on the pallet so that the barcode is on the same side as one of the pallet labels.

The barcode must be placed to that its lower edge is 32 mm ± 3 mm from the bottom of the package. The distance between the side of the package and the edge of the barcode shall be at least 19 mm.

The ITF‑14 barcode is often printed with bearer bars that are 4.8 mm wide. This means that an ITF‑14 barcode must be placed on the outer package so that the lower edge of the bearer bars is 27.2 mm ± 3 mm from the bottom of the package. The distance between the side of the package and the bearer bars must be at least 19 mm. If an ITF‑14 is printed without bearer bars, the distance between the side of the package and the closest bar must be at least 34 mm.

Exceptions from the guidelines for low packages

Sometimes the side of a package is too low for there to be sufficient space for the barcode. In such cases it is often easier to use a barcode label rather than print the barcode directly on the package. In order to make room for a barcode on a low package you may:

  • Place the barcode closer than 32 mm from the bottom of the package.
  • Print plain text information alongside rather than under the barcode.

Remember when using trays and shrink-wrap

A tray consists of a base with low vertical sides. The package is often shrink-wrapped to stabilise and protect the contents so that they do not fall out. Since the package has low vertical sides you may need to place the barcode closer than 32 mm from the bottom and/or print plain text information alongside rather than under the barcode.

It is often not possible to print the barcode directly on the packaging and therefore necessary to mark the package with a barcode label. It is very important that the barcodes on the inner packages cannot be read through the shrink-wrap. You can avoid this by:

  • Packing the consumer packages on the tray so that the barcodes are facing inwards.
  • Hiding the barcodes on the consumer packages with the tray.
  • Using a patterned shrink wrap so that the barcodes on the consumer packages cannot be read.

The logistic unit must be marked with labels on two adjacent sides – one short side and the long side to the right of the short side.

  • The labels must be placed at least 50 mm from the edge.
  • The labels must be paced so that the barcodes are at least 400 mm and at most 800 mm from the bottom.

The labels must be placed as high and as far to the right as possible. If necessary there should be space for a transport, store or customer label above the pallet label.

Remember when marking pallets

  • Put the label on the outside of the plastic for homogenous whole pallets and layer pads which are film-wrapped before they are aggregated to a pallet optimised for transport.
  • Layer pads which are not film-wrapped separately must have the label applied directly to the pallet or placed in or on one of the packages in the uppermost layer.
  • Labels can be split to landscape format with the text on the left and the barcodes on the right if there is a shortage of space on, for example, a layer pad. Remember that the barcodes and text must be the same size and format as other labels.
  • The label may not cover an outer package marking underneath.