What is the ideal size of a barcode?

Posted on September 26 2022

Reading time: 4 minutes

Barcodes have become a must-have for businesses. It’s easy to see why, since they scan quickly, which speeds up data collection and avoids data entry errors. It is a simplified way to identify each product in a unique way and to have quickly several information on the product!

Ideal size barcode minimum

However, for this system to work properly, the barcode scanners must be able to read the codes easily.

To ensure the legibility of a barcode, you must:

  1. Respect the silent zones (the white areas around the barcode). This zone must be at least 5 times wider than the thinnest bar.
  2. Give preference to prints with a strong contrast between dark and light bars. The best color combination is black bars with a white background. However, colors are allowed as long as the contrast is sufficient.
  3. Respect the size recommended by GS1

To create external barcodes (for product sales) and have them accepted worldwide, you must register with GS1, as they are the only globally recognized barcodes. Your barcodes will also have to comply with certain specific rules regarding print quality, bar height, color and background of your barcode, as well as its position on the label or packaging.

Type of barcode

There are different types of barcodes and it is important to validate their use before making a choice. The UPC (Universal Product Code) and EAN (European Article Numbering) codes are almost identical. They are designed to identify products used for retail sales.

Unidimensionnel or 1D

UPC-A / EAN-13

UPC codes are 12 digits long and are used in the North American market, while EAN codes are 13 digits long and are used in European markets. However, it is the EAN code that is used worldwide.Barcodes that meet the specifications are guaranteed to be read correctly. It is possible to reduce the barcode up to 80% or enlarge it up to 200%. If you reduce or enlarge more than that, you may encounter reading problems.

The regulatory body GS1 defines the official size of the EAN 13 barcode of 31.35 mm × 22.86 mm. The minimum size of an EAN 13 symbol at 80% of its nominal size is a minimum width of 25.08 mm for a height of 18.29 mm.

The total width of the barcode must include a margin on each side of the bars, which is called the “blank zone”. It is important to respect these margins to ensure a good reading of the code.

Here is the size chart issued by GS1 for a UPC-A or EAN-13 code:Barcode Dimensions for EAN 13


UPC-E and EAN 8 codes are reserved for use on small products such as cosmetics. It allows the use of UPC or EAN barcodes on products where the UPC-A and EAN-13 code cannot be used. The code has 8 digits.

The regulatory body GS1 defines the official size of the EAN 8 barcode of 16.83 mm × 22.86 mm. The minimum size of a symbol EAN 13 to 80% of its nominal size is a minimum width of 13.46 mm for a height of 18.29 mm.

Here is the size chart issued by GS1 for a UPC-E and EAN-8 code: Barcode Dimensions for EAN 8

scanning barcode

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Two-dimensional or 2D barcodes (QR code) 

Unlike EAN and UPC codes, the QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that can hold 10 times more data than one-dimensional barcodes. It is also much smaller and easier to scan than one-dimensional barcodes. It is widely used in the advertising and industrial fields.

QR codes are becoming increasingly popular as they can be scanned with a cell phone. However, not all phones have a camera with autofocus to focus. Therefore, a QR code that is too small will be unreadable for some phones.

The size of the QR code depends on the distance at which the reader will scan it. The minimum size should therefore be 2.5 x 2.5 cm. To calculate the ideal size, you have to calculate the reading distance and divide it by 10.

If you want to use barcodes in your company, ask Hector!

In addition to respecting the ideal dimensions of a barcode, make sure you have a good printer so that your barcodes have a good print quality.

By using barcodes and the Hector inventory management system, you will save a lot of time and have an overview of your inventory and equipment at all times.

Try Hector now!