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An ISSN is a 7-digit code (eight, with the check digit included) that identifies newspapers, journals, magazines and periodicals of all kinds and on all media — print and electronic. ISSN is the acronym for “International Standard Serial Number” and it identifies all continuing resources including some surprising ones, such as annual reports, websites, databases, collections, and blogs. In many countries, an ISSN is mandatory for all publications subject to the legal deposit.
Note that an ISSN does not tell you anything about the origin or contents of the publication, nor that it offers any kind of guarantee about the quality or validity of the contents.
An ISSN is associated with the publication title. Just as with ISBN codes, an ISSN must be registered at your country’s ISSN National Center or, lacking such a center where you live, at the ISSN International Centre.
You will always have the same ISSN for all issues of a periodical or a magazine, for CD-ROMs in a series, etc. The ISSN centers define a magazine as a continuing resource, which means it is published over time without a predetermined end. A serial publication, on the other hand, is an unfinished set of documents, published successively under the same title, for an undetermined period of time.
When the same publication is published on different media or in different languages, you must submit an application for distinct ISSNs for each medium or each linguistic edition. You must apply for a new ISSN when the publication’s medium changes and when the publication’s title changes.
Your local ISSN center may decide that you need to apply for a new ISSN when the publication merges with other titles, supplements are published, other editions are launched, and yet other cases that depend on your ISSN centre’s policy.
Using Barcode Producer to generate an ISSN
Barcode Producer encodes the ISSN in a GTIN-13 barcode which has a 977 country code in front. In Barcode Producer, you can easily enter the 7-digit ISSN number by typing it in the main field — a check digit is automatically calculated and added.
Barcode Producer structures the barcode as follows:
- 977 prefix assigned to serial publications
- Seven digits corresponding to the ISSN (without the hyphen and without the end check digit)
- Two digits for variable information such as a price change (see hereafter)
- Check digit calculated according to the modulo 10 formula.
The variable information Barcode Producer allows you to enter in the Variant field indicates if a price change has occurred since the last coded issue. For any type of continuous publication except daily newspapers, these digits should be set at 00 when you start barcoding; for each price change that occurs, it should increase one digit at a time to 01, 02, etc.
Note that the field does not show the actual price of the publication but serves to alert the retailer that their records must be amended to ensure that the new price is recorded at checkout.
Special issues with a different cover price — e.g. Summer or Christmas editions — should have a price variant of 99 and then 98 and so on.
The Issue field holds a 2-digit issue number of the publication.
Daily newspapers follow a different add-on barcode policy:
- Barcode Producer’s Issue field should in this case indicate the week of issue for the paper and remain the same throughout the week. The first digit of the Variant field should be used to indicate a price change starting from 0 and then going up to 1, 2, etc.
- The second digit of the Variant field should then be used to indicate the day of the week, 1 for Monday through to 7 for Sunday.
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- Serialized publications
- Scientific journals
What is the "Variant" field used for in ISSN barcodes?
See this third-party article for more information.
How do I add a 5-digit extension to my ISSN magazine barcode?
ISSN barcodes can support 5-digit extensions, but unfortunately, the current release of Barcode Producer (v6.8) only supports the older 2-digit extension. We plan to add support for a 5-digit extension to a future release.
In the interim, you can use the EAN-13 symbology to create an ISSN barcode with a 5-digit extension.