If you need the barcode to appear on a product that will be sold at retail points (shops, supermarkets, etc.) then you cannot just invent a number, you need to get a number known as a GTIN.
You must register with your national article numbering body (GS1UK in the UK, the GS1US in the USA) to obtain a company code number and a range of product code numbers. Together these numbers form Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN) which form the data for the barcodes. Without these numbers your barcodes will not be recognised when you products are scanned at a retail outlet. Furthermore you will probably need to use either EAN (in Europe), JAN (in Japan) or UPC (in the USA) barcode types for retail products, and, if appropriate, you may need to use Code 128 or EAN 128 barcodes on boxes containing multiple items.
If you have your barcode number(s) and you only need a small number of barcode images and are not likely to be needing more in the immediate future then we will be pleased to make the barcodes images and e-mail them to you.
Our Barcode images by e-mail service will create the barcode images and e-mail them to you. However, you do need to know the graphics format and graphics resolution you or your graphics designer would prefer (see below) before you use the service.
If you have an on-going need for barcode images we would advise you to purchase an easy to use program to make the images on your computer. Really Simple Barcodes is ideal if you need to make them one at a time or in batches, and Barcodes & Labels for Office is ideal if you have Microsoft Office and wish to print barcode labels containing information other than just the barcodes (such as price, product name, company logo, etc).
If you really want to print labels with data from other sources then you need to be looking at one of our label printing applications.
Generally TIFF images are fine for most computer systems (including Macs), although we can provide BMP, EPS, JPEG, PNG or WMF if you prefer. A resolution of 600 dpi is suitable for retail and "normal" size barcodes, although we can provide 300, 400, 600, 1200 or 2400 if required. The WMF format is a vector format, but only suitable for use on Windows PCs. If you have a graphics designer who will use the images the designer will be able to tell you which format and resolution is preferred.
If you are creating barcodes for use in a retail environment (eg. GS1/EAN-13 or UPC-A) then you should also consider the size of the barcode. The recommended barcode sizes page provide the sizes you would use for creating the barcode at 100% of the nominal size recommended by GS1. GS1 typically permits the size the range between 80 - 200% of this nominal size, and that means when both the height and the width of the image vary by the same proportion. If you need to truncate the barcode to fit on small packaging you are advised to check that the resellers of your products find this acceptable (in our experience many will, but some won't!)
The following extract from the GS1 specifications explains the reason for this:
“Truncation of a barcode symbol is the reduction of the barcode symbol height relative to the width. Truncation is not recommended because it destroys the ability of a symbol to be scanned omni-directionally at the point of sale. A truncated symbol can only be scanned when the trade item is oriented in particular directions across the scanning beam. Truncation therefore reduces checkout efficiency. The more the height is reduce the more critical becomes the alignment of the symbol across the scanning beam. Truncation should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, for example, when printing on a highly curved surface, and then the maximum height should be printed.”