Barcode Specifications

Physical requirements such as size, height, colour and location of the barcode are very important. Barcodes that do not comply cause inefficiency in the supply chain as they do not scan reliably. The specifications below relate to the more commonly-used barcodes.


The size of the barcode will depend on the symbol type and the intended scanning environment. Barcode scanning is more reliable when the barcode size is greater than the minimum.  Barcode Size Gauges can be obtained from GS1 Jordan to be used as a guide to show the sizes of various symbol types at different magnifications.

The Size Gauges are not intended to be a precise measuring tool, but can be a handy tool during packaging/product design to determine the amount of space needed for the required/chosen size.

Bar Height

Once the size of the barcode has been determined, for EAN/UPC Barcodes it is important to ensure that the height remains in proportion to the size, and does not drop below the minimum specified. For GS1 DataBar, ITF-14 and GS1-128 Barcodes the height is determined by the scanning environment. Please note that truncation (height reduction) on any symbol will reduce scanning reliability, and where space permits, the full height should always be printed.

Quiet Zones

The Quiet Zones for linear barcodes are the solid, light areas before the first bar and after the last bar. For two-dimensional barcodes, the Quiet Zone is the light area around the barcode. These areas are extremely important as they allow the scanner to recognise the beginning and end of the barcode. Any obstruction or reduction in the Quiet Zones will most likely result in scanning difficulties.

The minimum size required for the Quiet Zones depends on the size of the barcode. It is recommended to allow slightly more than the minimum required Quiet Zones to allow for any possible ink spread or plate registration issues.


The colours and type of ink you choose for your barcodes are important. As a scanner reads a barcode using an infrared light source it sees the symbol differently to the human eye. A barcode with dark bars on a solid light background is essential for successful scanning.

The most suitable and reliable colour combination is black bars on a white background. The colour chart below illustrates some suitable and unsuitable colour combinations.

Consult your printer or GS1 Jordan if you are uncertain about colour choice/options.