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EAN13 Product Barcodes Explained in Detail with Restrictions Standards and Dimensions

EAN13 Product Barcodes Explained in Detail with Restrictions Standards and Dimensions

Learn how to prepare an EAN-13 Barcode (Product Barcode for European standards) to place on your products. Read more to learn all the facts you need to know about EAN-13 barcodes.

This article has especially been written for packaging designers who want to know how to use barcodes in their designs. Information is provided regarding how to get barcodes, how to align barcodes, and scaling barcodes are given together with barcode sizes and dimensions.
First things first; you will need a barcode number (which you get from your trade association), and then you can generate barcodes based on these numbers. You will be mostly assigned a range. So how to generate barcodes: There are many online barcode generators available today that you could use to generate your barcodes. For a barcode generator, simply search "barcode generator" oline in your search engine. Remember that there are many free ones, in case you come up with software.
It is suggested that you generate a transparent PNG or EPS version of the barcodes rather than JPEG to put in your artwork. Make sure that your barcode image is high-resolution as the printing is usually made in high-resolution.
EAN13 Product Barcodes Explained in Detail with Restrictions Standards and Dimensions
EAN 13 barcode size is 37.29 x 25.93 mm including the enclosing required white spaces (but not on top: see the figure). This size can be made bigger and smaller, for automated reading, you should use 200% magnification, and for most products you should use standard dimensions. The table on top shows several sizes and dimensions you could use, calculated for you.
EAN13 Product Barcodes Explained in Detail with Restrictions Standards and Dimensions
Smallest EAN13 barcode size: If you read the general guidelines regarding the barcodes, you will see that the smallest size permitted by most of the standards is: 18.28 mm however you will notice that many barcodes are shorter than that, these non-standard barcodes usually work and 10 mm is seen in many products and the minimum size for ean 13 barcodes is 8.5 mm height. It is your own risk to make barcodes smaller than 18.28 mm which is the 80% magnification of the original size. Reduction of the barcode height below the 80% (such as 80% SX) might result your exclusion from some retail shops, therefore it is best not to use them unless absolutely not necessary.
EAN13 Product Barcodes Explained in Detail with Restrictions Standards and Dimensions
Barcode Color : There are several barcode color standards that you need to obey, the barcodes are usually scanned by infrared light, therefore the allowed backgrounds are a range of red to yellow (which do not contain any black), and the front colors can be: green, blue or black, or very dark brown.
Material printed on barcode - the substrate should not be high gloss, transparent or semi transparent background. If you are printing on reflective surface, it is best to make the barcode bigger than the standard size. Alternatively you could make the background less reflective by putting some color.
Barcode Alignment: Where to put the barcode in a packaging is important and has some restrictions, in principle, barcodes should be places in non-deforming flat surfaces so that they could be easily read, for bottles, which are all round this means the placement should be vertical. In most cases the direction of the barcode should generally be flat and run horizontally.
Multiple barcodes: It is important to note that in some cases you might need more than 1 barcode, especially for propackaging. There are also height restrictions available for large-sized packages, consult to the barcoding agency or a packaging company.
EAN13 Product Barcodes Explained in Detail with Restrictions Standards and Dimensions
If you have propackaging or multipacking (package of package) it is important to seal the barcodes within the packages; i.e. if for example you are shrinkpacking a pack of pet bottles, you do not want the scanner to read the barcode on a single label but on the main packaging itself, so remember to conceal them. Obscuring Patterns could also be used on the products.
Please remember to also place barcodes at a visible location: barcodes should be easily spotted by the operator. Mostly the preferred location is on the lower right quadrant of the back, near the edge, respecting the proper Quiet Zones and
the edge rule.
Glossary of some barcode related concepts are as follows:
Quiet Zone : A clear space which precedes the Start Character of a bar code and follows the Stop Character. Formerly referred to as “Clear Area” or “Light Margin.”
Quiet Zone Indicator : A greater than (>) or less than (<) character, printed in the human readable field of the bar code, with the tip aligned with the outer edge of the Quiet Zone.
Barcode Total Width: This is the total width of the barcode, for ean13 barcodes, at 100% it is 37,79, for the most acceptable smallest size it is 29,83 mm.
Barcode Total Height: This is the total height of the barcode, for ean13 barcodes, the standard dimension is 25.93 mm.
A barcode is a machine readable graphic consisting of a number of bars with varying spaces and widths. After they are scanned by infra-red scanners, a unique number is read by the computer, which provides information about the contents of the product by querying a database. This allows automated and swift identification of information.
EAN is European Article Number. EAN-13 is the 13 digit barcode number that most of the products in European market use.
Your pro packaging might be using CODE39, QR CODE or ITF Codes to give more information regarding the manufacturer, supplier, box quantity, product details etc.
Disclaimer: Please consult to a packaging professional in case you are not sure about how to do it correctly; information provided here cannot replace expert comments - this article is meant to be a beginners guide to barcodes for graphics and packaging designers.

This article was added on Monday, 27th of January, 2014 at 06.26 am by author Onur Cobanli Tags: barcode, ean-13 barcode, product barcodes, packaging design. Read our copyright policy here.


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