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Introduction to Barcoding

Kelle Vandenberg

By Robert Hepburn, Vice President of Sales

We have a lot of customers ask about how to generate and register their bar code / UPC codes so they can print those on their bags or labels.

The process, while not all that difficult, can be confusing as the terms can often be misconstrued.  This blog entry will help breakdown just exactly what is a barcode vs a UPC Code vs ISBN number. 

What is a barcode?

A barcode is a geometric pattern, usually vertical lines, which are used to scan and track goods.  These codes can be used as a simple tracking method for the internal marking and tracking of products or for commercial usage.  The use of barcodes took off when they were adopted by suppliers of products for supermarket use.  There are two common kinds of barcodes being used in the commercial market:

•   UPC (Universal Product Code)
•   ISBN (International Standard Book Number)

These standard barcodes must be applied for through official agencies to validate a product before it can be sold.

How to Request and Create a Commercial Barcode?

If you want to use the barcode commercially, you will need to request a UPC or ISBN identification number for your company or product.  This will allow you have to have a common registry of numbers uniquely identified to that company or product.  The numbers will typically start off with the same number set and have a different last few UPC or ISBN numbers. 

•   To request UPC code you will need to request from a web site called www.gs1us.org.  After supplying all of the appropriate details about your company and product, you will be sent a UPC number.  
•   An ISBN number can be requested at www.ISBN.org.  At this site you can request a single number or block numbers. 

Once you have your UPC or ISBN barcode you can then make a barcode yourself by using the barcode font in Microsoft Excel or use an online program.  If you are printing a bag or a label you can also typically provide the location and code number where you want the barcode to go, and your bag or label supplier can generate and print it for you. 

Please feel free to call your representative.