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October 09, 2019
By Jenny Hughart, BarTender® technical writer

Before you can create a barcode, you must determine what information you want to encode and what symbology to use to encode it. The first factor to consider is whether the barcodes will be used strictly in-house (for example, in inventory control or direct sales to consumers) or will be placed on products that will be shipped and/or sold elsewhere.

For in-house applications, nearly any code that meets your needs and can be scanned by your equipment will suffice. For other applications, industry standards and constraints will help determine what barcode you can use.


Select the barcode symbology

The symbology that you use is determined by several factors:


Create or obtain the data to be encoded

Create or obtain the data that you need to encode, such as stock keeping units (SKUs), part numbers, lot numbers, expiration dates, location numbers, URLs, and so on. (Depending on the barcode generation software that you use, this data can be stored in a database, a Microsoft Word document, or a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.)

If you are using the GS1 system, you will be assigned a company prefix, and you will create your own Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and other GS1 identification keys as needed, all of which must be encoded as well.


Generate the barcode symbol

Commercially-available software can make it easy to create barcode symbols. Physical elements to be considered include the following:


Verify the barcode

To verify that the barcode that you created scans correctly and reliably, you can do one of the following:


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