Position the barcode correctly

It is important to know how to position the barcode so that it easily and efficiently can be read with a scanner. Below are guidelines for barcodes that will be placed on consumer packaging, cases and pallets.

General guidelines for barcode placement

  • The barcode must not be creased or folded around a corner.
  • Place the barcode on a smooth surface and never around corners, over joints, perforations, seams or such.
  • If the package is enclosed by cellophane or other film, the joint must not be over the barcode.

Consumer packaging

General guidelines

  • Each package can only have one barcode.
  • If possible, place the barcode at least 8 mm and not more than 100 mm from the edge of the package.
  • Place the barcode low on the back of the package, preferably to the right.
  • Avoid placing the barcode on the bottom of the package.

Specific guidelines for special consumer packages

  • Cans and other cylindrical items with diameter less than 12 cm. The barcode is recommended to be oriented as a ladder and not a fence. *
  • Composite item. When a package contains several consumer items, it should not be possible to read the barcode of the items packed inside. Hide the barcodes with the packaging or by packing the included items so that the barcodes are directed inwards and not are visible.
  • Right-angled items. Place the barcode on the lower part of the back of the package, preferably to the right.
  • Bags and other soft packaging. The barcode should be placed at the center of the bag, where the risk of wrinkles is lowest.
  • Bottles. The barcode should be placed on the main label or on a separate label on the back. Never on a banner around the bottleneck.

* If the barcode is oriented as a fence, on cans and other cylindrical items with a diameter of less than 12 cm, special values for the module width of the barcode (also called x-dimension) apply for the barcode to be readable. For more information, see GS1 General Specifications, section 6.2.3.2 Figure 6.2.3.2-3. To ensure the readability of the barcode, it is recommended that the barcode be verified with, for example, GS1 BarcodeCheck.

Cases

General guidelines

The case shall be marked so that the barcode can be read even when the package is on a pallet. This means that:

  • At least one of the sides of the case shall be marked with a barcode.
  • If the case cannot be turned around while it is on the pallet, two sides should be marked with a barcode.
  • The barcode must not be placed on the underside of the case.

For the grocery trade, if only one of the sides of the case is marked with a barcode, the case must be placed on the pallet so that the label is on the same side as one of the pallet labels.

The barcode shall be positioned in such a way that the bottom of the bars is 32 mm +/- 3 mm from the bottom of the case. The distance between the side of the case and the barcode must be at least 19 mm.

The barcode ITF-14 is often printed directly on the packaging with a support frame that is 4.8 mm wide. This means that the ITF-14 should be placed on the case so that the bottom of the support frame is 27.2 +/- 3 mm from the bottom. The distance between the side of the case and the barcodes support frame must be at least 19 mm. If the ITF-14 does not have a support frame, the distance between the side of the case and the nearest line must be at least 34 mm.

Exceptions for low packages

Sometimes the side of the package is too low for the barcode to fit on the packaging. To fit the barcode on a low package, you can:

  • Place the barcode closer than 32 mm from the bottom of the package.
  • Place the text information to the left of the barcode.

Brick packages and shrink wrapped packages

Trays are a number of items that have been packed together on a tray to be able to be transported. A tray consists of a bottom plate with low vertical sides. The packaging is often enclosed with shrink wrap to provide stability and protection to the content so that they don’t fall out of the package. Because the packaging has low vertical sides, you may need to place the barcode closer than 32 mm from the bottom of the package and/or place the plain text information next to, instead of under the barcode.

Often it is not possible to print the barcode directly on a package and it is necessary to mark the package with a barcode label. It is very important that it is not possible to read the barcodes of the consumer packaging through the shrink wrap To resolve this, you can:

  • Pack the consumer packaging in the tray so that the barcodes are facing inwards.
  • Hide the barcodes of the consumer packaging with the outer packaging tray.
  • Use patterned shrink wrap that prevents the barcodes on the consumer packages to be readable.

Sample images

Pallet

Each logistic unit must have at least one pallet label. Pallets should be marked on two sides to ensure that at least one of them is visible (depending on whether the pallet is stored with the long side or the short side outwards). Above the pallet label on the shorter side, there should also be space for a transport, retail or customer pack label, which can be placed there if needed.

  • The label should be placed at least 50 mm from the edge.
  • The label shall be positioned in such a way that the barcodes are at least 400 mm and not more than 800 mm from the bottom.
  • Place the label on the outside of the stretch wrap on one-item pallets and layer pallets that are stretch wrapped before they are compiled into a transport optimized pallet.
  • Layer pallets that are not stretch wrapped separately should have the labels applied directly to the layer pallet or placed in or on any of the packages on the top layer.
  • The labels can be seperated, so that they become landscaped with the text on the left and the barcodes to the right, if there is a lack of space on for example, layer pallets. Keep in mind that barcodes and text should be the same size and quality as other labels.
  • The label shall not cover the underlying outer packaging marking.