How to Make a Bar Code

A barcode, or Universal Product Code (UPC), is a pattern of black lines and white spaces that identify a product according to a predetermined set of numbers, or Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), that is given to you when your product is registered by your company. The barcode is a 12-digit code that can be read by special electronic readers in retail stores to track orders and sales. To obtain your barcode identification number and enable you to print your product's barcode, your company must be a member of an organization called GS1 US� Partner Connections, which will then provide you with an identification number and enable you to create your barcodes for your products. If you are a small business with very few products, you may not want to invest in this system; however, if you have many products that sell in several retail stores, having a barcode for each product is a good way of tracking your sales and may be well worth the expenses.


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    Take out a membership with GS1 US� Partner Connections that assigns your company's identification number and obtain a UPC for your product; the initial membership fee will be fairly expensive and you will need to renew the membership each year.
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    Purchase a software program that will enable you to create barcodes; check online for various sources of these products or with the organization of which you are a member.
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    Locate your company's prefix number and the item's reference number provided by the member organization.
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    Input the company's prefix number provided by the member organization according to the software instructions
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    Input the item's reference number assigned to you according to the software instructions.
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    Check the accuracy of the number; it should be a 12-digit code.
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    Obtain a data driver tool from the member organization for printing your barcodes.
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    Purchase labels onto which the barcode will be printed and that will be attached to your product and follow the instructions for setting up your particular printer.
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    Print the labels yourself or have your product's packager print the barcode directly onto the packaging.


  • There are some Internet-based companies that resell UPCs a lot less costly than a membership to the national organization; however, you would most likely be using that company's identification number and not have a number specific to your company. Your UPC would be tied to that company as well. If you are a small company with only a few products this is fine, but if you have several products and work with retailers you will need your own product codes.
  • There are some software programs that allow you to print barcodes that are supplied by the U.S. Post Office directly onto your mailing pieces to save postage and pre-sorting costs.

Things You'll Need

  • Membership to GS1 US� Partner Connections
  • Software that enables you to create barcodes
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Barcode labels (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Programming