Where Do You Place the Bar Code On Product Packaging?

HelpOnce you have a bar code, you may be wondering exactly where to place it on your product packaging. We got this question from an end user and quickly turned to Bert Moore, the Director of Technical Communications for AIM, for the answer. AIM, as you probably know, is the global trade organization for automatic identification and mobility.

(Thanks to Bert for his willingness to answer questions about bar codes and auto ID at the drop of a hat. You can find his articles in the AIM Newsletter here.)

The simple answer is that bar code placement is covered fully in Section 6.3 of the GS1 General Specifications (version 12). (The specification runs a hefty 450 pages).

Here's a quick synopsis of what you'll find when you turn to Section 6.3.

"Preferred bar code placement is on the lower right quadrant of the back (of the item), respecting the proper Quiet Zone areas around the bar code and the edge rule. Placement on the bottom is acceptable, except for large or heavy items. However, back (side) marking is preferred."

After discussing the preferred placement for a bar code, the spec also details the least desired location as follows:

"The undesirable alternative placement for a bar code is the lower right quadrant of a side of the container, other than the back."

Continuing to the next sub-section (the Edge Rule), you'll find more specifics about how to place the bar code relative to the edge of the product.

"When possible, the bar code must not be closer than 8 mm (0.3 in) or farther than 100 mm (4 in) from the nearest edge of the package/container."

Previous guidelines set the minimum distance at 5 mm, but practical experience showed a greater distance was needed. Because cashiers at the point of sale often use their thumbs to grab trade items by the edges, the increased distance helps improve efficiency at check out.

Bert also suggests that you spend some time reading up on other sections of the GS1 General Specifications, especially if you'll be placing bar codes on items that may cause the packaging to deform. Exceptions to the general placement guidelines include bags, blister packs, large, heavy, or bulky items, thin items, and containers.

And if you still have questions, you can find out more by contacting the local GS1 office in your country

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