Bar Code Quiet Zones Illustrated and Explained

What is a Bar Code Quiet Zone?   This article offers an explanation and illustration and we are grateful to Dennis Hensch at for providing it.  (Please allow a few extra seconds for this article to load due to the number of illustrations). 

 Quiet Zone Requirements Vary by Symbology: 

Quiet zones (QZ) are the area around the bar code that must be kept clear of text, graphics, and any
other printing which also includes ensuring that the bar code is not too close to the edge of the label/packaging. 

Bar code scanners depend on the QZ to help identify the bar code. The lack of an adequate QZ can cause the bar code scanner to confuse the bar codes with text or graphics resulting in the scanner ignoring a valid symbol. Each symbology has a different QZ size requirement, however all quiet zones are based on the size of the Narrow Bar Width (NBW) for linear bar codes and Module (MDL) for 2D bar codes.

The most common QZ error is caused by print growth, especially with bar codes that have a bearer bar around the bar code. This happens when the packaging designer makes a bar code with exactly the minimum QZ but when printing the bearer bars, text, or graphics print slightly wider (or registration shifts) which reduces the QZ size and cause a failure. Because of this we suggest making your QZ 1X or 2X wider than the minimum to ensure your bar codes QZ meet the ISO/ANSI standards.

Examples of various quiet zone requirements:

qz qr















 qz datamatrix
















qz upca













qz databar
















Minimum quiet zone requirements by symbology:

qz table


















About Auto ID Solutions:
With over 60 years of bar code experience and two GS1-US Certified Consultants among its three senior staff, Auto ID Solutions offers quick, simple and thorough troubleshooting of bar code issues, regardless of size or scope. In addition to consulting and troubleshooting, Auto ID Solutions provides a variety of bar code verification-related services including calibration, repair, re-certification and sales--all with a guaranteed 24-hour turnaround. If your production line has been shut down, you have received a financial penalty for a bar code issue, or you are simply looking to learn more about the bar coding process, please visit us at for more information or call us directly at (866) 828-8643.


Useful Sources:

More information about Quiet Zones for bar codes can be found here:

GS1 Website -

Other articles that may interest you:

Assorted Bar Code Resources and How-To's

Subscribe to the Bar Code News - daily, weekly or monthly.   Free for members of the industry and bar code enthusiasts. We respect your privacy, and never rent or sell our email lists.

Would someone at your company like to write a Guest Post? Please see this link for details on how to do it.

Follow Us On Twitter -