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Where to position your barcode image?

Barcodes are the most efficient way of getting products through a checkout. Hence printing your barcode as standard as possible ensures minimal handling by the checkout operator and keeps the queues down. That is why you will find most barcodes (except for magazines and newspapers) mainly at the bottom right rear of a product. The checkout operator can pass them through the scanner without having to look for the barcode.

Please spend some time looking at some similar products already in stores and see how their barcodes are placed. Talk to your printer about it too. Sometimes the printing is a better quality one way or another, i.e. in the print direction.

Horizontal or Vertical

The common standard is horizontal with the numbers at the bottom (like a fence).

Depending on the curvature of the product, they may need to be rotated, so they are vertical (like a ladder).

Ladder Picket Barcode Position


Avoid printing too close to the edge of a product. This is where the checkout operator may hold the item and so block the barcode. 8mm from the edge is the official recommendation, and no closer than 5mm from the edge.

Bottles, tubes, cylinders and tubs

Depending on the curvature of the container, you may need to rotate the barcode, so it is vertical. For example, items with a small radius, a beer bottle or lipstick, are likely to need this. Some scanners struggle to read both ends of the barcode if the curvature is large.

GS1 official advice is that the angle between the tangent to the centre of the curved symbol and the tangent to the extremity of the curved symbol (outer edge of the guard bars for the symbol in the EAN/UPC Symbology) must be less than 30 degrees. If this angle is more than 30 degrees, the symbol must be oriented such that the bars are perpendicular to the generating lines of the surface of the item.

Bags and sacks

When the contents in a bag or sack can move around, it can make the packaging lumpy. Bear this in mind as barcodes scan best on flat surfaces.

Books, Magazines and Newspapers

Book ISBN barcodes are placed on the book’s reverse cover in the lower right area.

Magazines and newspapers ISSN number barcodes are printed on the front cover at the bottom.

General tips on barcode placement

Don’t print too close to the edges

Don’t print on perforations, seams, folds, absorbent paper.