EPS? TIFF? PDF? Which is the best barcode format for you?
It’s easy to think that it might not matter which image format you use when you’re ready to print your barcode as long as your barcodes are accurate. Barcode Producer makes sure your barcode output will be of the highest possible quality, but there are important differences between EPS, TIFF, and PDF files. Choosing the best barcode format for your needs is a big step in creating the best barcodes for your needs.
Barcode Print Resolution
Resolution is really important with barcodes. A barcode printed at a low resolution can be difficult to scan, and it might not even scan at all.
DPI is the acronym meaning “dots per inch” and is a unit of measure for the resolution of a file, identifying how many dots are printed in an inch by an output device. Resolution is determined by the printer you’re outputting to and the media you use. For example, glossy paper can have 1200 dpi, but recycled office paper can only have 300 dpi. The reason is that the ink is deposited on top of the glossy paper, remaining as crisp as it gets, while the low-quality paper will absorb the ink into the paper fibers, resulting in a loss of sharpness.
If you’re printing barcode images yourself with an inkjet printer on high-quality office paper, Barcode Producer’s default resolution of 600 dpi is spot on, guaranteeing a sharp delineation of the black bars against the white spaces. If your final output is an imagesetter, you’ll want to output in that device’s native resolution. You could print in a resolution of up to 4800 dpi. You can set high resolutions in the Output Device Resolution field in Barcode Producer.
The Finishing button gives access to further settings that may be needed to fine-tune the barcode for printing on some devices.
Barcode Finishing Options
Raster versus Vector for Barcodes
When considering your options, it’s important to understand the differences between raster vs vector to decide what’s the best for your barcodes.
Raster images are compiled using a series of pixels organized in a raster. Since raster images are pixel-based, they are resolution-dependent. If you’re using a raster image format, at a minimum, you should output the barcode to the output device's resolution.
Vector images are mathematical formulas instructing the output device to draw an image based on paths (vectors) between two points (nodes) on an XY axis rather than defining pixels in a matrix. As a result, vector images are resolution-independent, and you can output them to a 300 dpi desktop printer with the same detail and sharpness as to a printing press suitable for outputting a billboard as the output device will handle all of the resolution calculations. As vector images are endlessly scalable, without any loss of detail, they’re ideal for barcode printing.
Understanding Image File Formats
Barcode Producer supports TIFF files, “tagged image file format,” which are high-security raster images. They’re often used when users need enhanced security on a graphic file. The TIFF stores extensive metadata inside each image file, allowing users to gather information about a picture before opening it.
We’d recommend avoiding TIFF files if possible. If you are using it, make sure to pay extra attention to resolution and module width adjustment. It is a raster image format and generates quite large files. If you have no choice, be sure to be conscious of resolution, so your printed barcodes are readable.
PNG file – Portable Network Graphics — is a format that Barcode Producer does not support. We don’t support PNG files because the format was designed to replace the older and simpler GIF format and, to some extent, the much more complex TIFF format. PNG has three main advantages over GIF on the Web: alpha channels, gamma correction, and two-dimensional interlacing. However, PNG files are not recommended for barcode printing.
Barcode Producer does support EPS files. EPS is short for Encapsulated PostScript. It’s an older but very lightweight type of vector graphics file. It’s no longer updated and has been replaced by PDF.
WARNING: If you send a Barcode Producer EPS file to a printer or printer driver that doesn’t support PostScript, it will not print correctly.
PDF is an ISO standard for electronic documents that allows users to exchange and view electronic documents in any environment or program, no matter where they’re viewed or printed.
The keywords in this sentence on the ISO site are “independent of the environment in which they are viewed or printed.” To meet that goal, outputting a barcode to PDF will result in a vector image that is slightly bigger than an EPS file. As PDF is also replacing PostScript as a printer engine, PDF is your best choice for barcode printing.
Barcode Producer’s output is of the highest quality regardless of whether you output to TIFF, EPS, or PDF. However, if you want to avoid having to meticulously ensure that the resolution of your file matches that of the output device, EPS and PDF scores are best for outputting your barcodes.