Dimensions and Positioning

Dimensions and Positioning for EAN-13, ITF-14 & QR

EAN-13 Barcode Dimensions
Magnification Requirements
Table of Magnification Values

ITF-14 Barcode Dimensions
Height of Bars
Bar Width Ratio
Human Readable Interpretation
Table of Magnification Values

QR Code Dimensions
QR Code Size
Quality and Image Format
Printing Surface
Encouraging Scanning

Barcode Positioning
Horizontal or Vertical
Image Placement (Edges)
Bottles, Tubes and Other Rounded Products
Bags and Sacks
Books, Magazines, Newspapers

EAN-13 Barcode Dimensions

Barcode Symbol Dimensions (at 100% magnification):

When we send you your barcode images, we will (normally) send them in standard size. You can resize the images if necessary to fit your product packaging or label, however please pay attention to the allowable barcode dimensions table below (especially if some of your retailers require barcode verification). The smallest recommended barcode size for an EAN-13 barcode is 80% of standard size (approx. 30mm wide x 20mm high).

Note that the white space on either side of the barcode (called the quiet zone) is an important part of the barcode. You must allow for this space when calculating the dimensions of your barcode- don’t crop it right to the bars!

EAN-13 Barcode Magnification Requirements:

An EAN-13 barcode can have a magnification range of 80% – 200% (X-dimension 0.26mm-0.66mm), if scanned at retail. If an item is being scanned in a General Distribution situation (automatic scanning), the magnification range is 150% to 200% (X-dimension 0.50mm – 0.66mm).

  • Magnification- the percentage of standard size (100%)
  • X-dimensions- the width of the smallest bar in mm
  • Bar width- the distance in mm from the start of the first bar to the end of the last one
  • Bar height- how long the bars are in mm
  • Left quiet zone- the width of white space on the left side of the barcode (mm)
  • Right quiet zone- the width of white space on the right side of the barcode (mm)

Table of Magnification Values

MagnificationX-dimensionBar WidthBar HeightLeft Quiet ZoneRight Quiet Zone

NOTE: A minimum magnification of 75% (X-dimension 0.25mm) is allowable only with certain on demand print processes (eg. thermal), however this applies only to the width of the barcode (the height of the barcode must remain at the 80% magnification size or larger).

ITF-14 Dimensions

ITF-14 barcodes, also known as carton barcodes or TUN codes, are larger than EAN-13 retail barcodes. You will notice on the image below that there are thick black bars surrounding the barcode. These are known as bearer bars, and the horizontal ones are mandatory on ITF-14 codes whereas the vertical bars are optional.

ITF-14 dimensions
This image shows the standard ITF-14 barcode dimensions at 100% magnification in mm


The specified magnification range for an ITF-14 Barcode Symbol being scanned in a General Distribution Scanning environment is between 50 and 100%. For other scanning environments the range is 25-100%

If printing onto corrugate fibreboard the ITF-14 should be above 62.5% magnification

Height of Bars:

The minimum height for the bars in a General Distribution Scanning Environment (automated scanning) is 32mm.

In other scanning environments (usually a handheld scanner) the bar height should be as high as possible. 13mm is the minimum bar height, hence all ITF-14’s should exceed this height however every effort should be made to ensure that the height is as close as possible to 32mm.

Bar Width Ratio:

The bar width ratio is 2.5:1. The acceptable range for this ratio is between 2.25:1 and 3:1. Bar width ratio is the ratio of the widest bar to the narrowest bar in the ITF-14. Usually the widest module should be 2.5 times the width of the narrowest module.

Human Readable Interpretation:

Font, font size and location are not specified however these should be printed clearly in proportion to the rest of the barcode. It is preferred for the font to appear below the barcode.

Table of ITF-14 Measurements by Magnification

  • Magnification- the percentage of standard size (100%)
  • X-dimensions- the width of the smallest bar in mm
  • Bar width- the distance in mm from the start of the first bar to the end of the last one
  • Bar height- how long the bars are in mm
  • Quiet zone- the width of white space on either side of the barcode (mm)
MagnificationX-DimensionBar WidthBar HeightQuiet Zones

Where to position your barcode image?

Barcodes are the most efficient way of getting products through a checkout. Hence printing your barcode as standard as possible ensures minimal handling by the checkout operator and keeps the queues down. That is why you will find most barcodes (with the exception of magazines and newspapers) mainly at the bottom right rear of a product. The checkout operator can pass them through the scanner without having to look for the barcode.

barcode on a product

Spend some time looking at some similar products already in stores and see how their barcodes are placed. Talk to your printer about it too. Sometimes the printing is better quality one way or another, i.e. in the direction of print.

Horizontal or Vertical

The common standard is horizontal with the numbers at the bottom (like a fence).

Depending on the curvature of the product they may need to be rotated so they are vertical (like a ladder).

barcode orientation


Avoid printing too close to the edge of a product. This is where the checkout operator may hold the item and so block the barcode. 8mm from the edge is the official recommendation, and no closer than 5mm from the edge.

bottle with barcode

Bottles, tubes, cylinders and tubs

Depending on the curvature of the container you may need to rotate the barcode so it is vertical, as shown on the image to the left. Items with a small radius, for example, a beer bottle or a lipstick are likely to need this. Some scanners struggle to read both ends of the barcode if the curvature is large.

GS1’s official advice is that the angle between the tangent to the centre of the curved symbol and the tangent to the extremity of the curved symbol (outer edge of the guard bars for symbol in the EAN/UPC Symbology) must be less than 30 degrees. If this angle is more than 30 degrees, the symbol must be oriented such that the bars are perpendicular to the generating lines of surface of the item.

Bags and sacks

When the contents in a bag or sack can move around it can make the packaging lumpy. Bear this in mind as barcodes scan best on flat surfaces.

Books, Magazines and Newspapers

Book ISBN number barcodes are placed on the book’s reverse cover on the lower right area.

Magazines and newspapers ISSN number barcodes are printed on the front cover at the bottom.

General tips on barcode placement

Don’t print too close to the edges.

Don’t print on perforations, seams, folds, absorbent paper.

QR Code Dimensions

QR Code Size

QR codes continue functioning at surprisingly small sizes. 2×2 cm is the generally accepted safe minimum size, although it may be possible to get smaller. In terms of maximum size, the main thing to consider is whether the user will be able to fit the whole QR code into the QR code scanner they use. The most important advice when dealing with QR codes is to always test the code first at the desired size with multiple scanning apps and phones before committing to mass printing.

QR Code Quality & Image Format

We supply our QR codes in five formats: tif, bmp, jpg, pdf and eps. Which of these formats you use will depend on the scale and technical details of your project- a JPG will be fine if you want a QR code in the corner of A4 posters for a local event. However, if you want to greatly alter the size of the QR code (eg for a business card or large poster) you will probably be asked for a vector format image by your printer such as EPS.

qr code white boarder requirement

Important: When you receive your QR code, it will have a white border around it- do not remove this! Without this border, your code will likely have serious scanning problems.

Qr Code Printing Surface

qr code on corner

It is important to ensure your QR code is not put on a surface that will make it difficult or impossible to scan. Some things to watch out for are:

  • Avoid extremely reflective surfaces eg bare glass- print on a paper label instead if possible, or give the code a solid coloured background
  • Try to print on flat surfaces, not rounded. If printing on a curved surface, make the code smaller to reduce the impact of the curvature
  • Don’t put your QR code somewhere that may be bent- for example, a QR code near the inner margin of a book or magazine can be difficult or impossible to scan
  • Rough or uneven surfaces like corrugated cardboard are likely to interfere with scanning


When a QR code is generated, it creates a pixel pattern that encodes the URL it links to. The longer the URL is, the more pixels will be required to create the QR code. Denser codes can have problems scanning especially when reduced to a small size (eg on a business card). This is usually not an issue, but if you intend to use your QR code at a very small size we recommend either using a short URL or ordering a dynamic QR code, as these link to a short URL hosted by us that then redirects to a URL of your choice that can be any length.

Encourage Scanning

Having a QR code that scans perfectly is good, but that is of no use if nobody actually scans it. Encouraging people to scan your code by telling them why they should, or even just putting “Scan Me!” next to the code, can significantly increase scan rate.

Another way to encourage scanning is to make your code look visually appealing, with colours, unqiue pixel shapes and your logo in the middle. If you are interested in our team of QR code artists beautifying your code, order a customised QR code!

qr code with artwork and scan me text