Troubleshooting unscannable and unreliable barcodes
The barcode images created by Barcode Producer are precise, but manipulation of the barcode outside of Barcode Producer can have an impact on its readability. When users report barcode scanning trouble, it's generally due to a factor that's beyond the scope of the Barcode Producer software. That said, we're here to help make sure your barcodes work as expected.
Here's some things to consider:
- Has the barcode image been resized or manipulated?
Never resize the barcode image once you take it outside of Barcode Producer. The overall size of the barcode image can be adjusted within Barcode Producer by changing the "Factor" and "Bar Height" settings. The overall size of the barcode image is displayed in the upper right-hand corner of the preview window in Barcode Producer. See this article for additional information on barcode sizing.
- Has the barcode image been adjusted for ink spread (a.k.a. press gain)?
Production printers and inkjets often introduce a certain amount of ink spread based on a number of factors, like the specific type of output device, ink thickness, ink composition, and paper material. If you don’t compensate for ink spread, your “A” grade barcode might become a “B” or “C” — readable, but not technically precise. See this article for more information on setting resolution and Bar Width Reduction.
- Has the quiet space (light margin) been retained for the barcode image?
A barcode must have a certain amount of white space to the left and right of the bars - this is also known as the Light Margin. If there is not enough white space, barcode scanners may be unable to read the barcode. Things such as text or graphical elements placed too close to the barcode - within the light margin - can cause a barcode to be unreadable. For barcode symbologies that support light margin indicators, we suggest using them. See this article for additional information on Light Margins.
- Make sure the resolution of the barcode image you create matches the resolution of the output device.
- What type of paper stock are you printing on?
Glossy paper tends to lower the overall score as ink and toner will spread a little bit more than with matte paper stock. As the overall size of the barcode is reduced, you may need to use a bit of bar width reduction. See this article for more information on setting resolution and Bar Width Reduction.
- What application are you printing from?
If you create a high resolution PDF of your layout from Adobe Illustrator (for example) but open and print the PDF from Preview, you will get lower scan results. Preview uses anti-aliasing to make things look smoother, but it can actually reduce the quality of an image. You should print precision PDF artwork from Acrobat.
- Was the barcode accidentally modified?
Take a look at the barcode in your design project verses the barcode within Barcode Producer. In the process of adding the barcode artwork into your design project, was the barcode's size changed and/or distorted? Was the quiet space encroached upon? Does the bar pattern match? Has a bar been moved or deleted? If in doubt, don't try to fix it -- just create the barcode again and reinsert it.
Need more help or advice?
If you’d like us to take a look at your barcode, please send us a copy of your barcode (a vector EPS exported directly from Barcode Producer), and if you like, a copy of your production artwork – we’d be happy to take a look for you. Additionally, if you have a copy of a barcode test report, we’ll be happy to look at that too.