Do I Need A Bar Code On My Product?
There is no law that says you must bar code a product. However, many national retail chains and most grocery stores require all products they sell to have a bar code that is unique for your product. The stores require this because it is easier for the company that makes the product to mark it rather than the store.

Can I Print The UPC Bar Code In A Color Ink or On Colored Paper?
Color ink and will reduce the contrast between the bars and spaces. Also remember that many scanners use red light. If you print the bars using any shade of red, the same amount of light will reflect off the red bars as the white spaces. Also, printing black bars on a colored background will also reduce the light reflecting off the spaces and reduce the contrast. Other colored inks will also reduce the contrast ratio between the bars and spaces and greatly increase the probability of an unreadable barcode. If the black bars and white spaces are too glossy, the symbol also may not read.
Any retailer may fine or disqualify vendors who supply products with bar codes that do not scan. If you print the UPC symbol with color ink, you run the risk that the symbol will not scan.

Correct Bar Code Size
On many occasions the issue of bar code sizing has created problems in the production of customer provided art. Often the art will have bar codes created by the customer far below recommended sizes. Additionally the art design will not allow for space to increase the size of the bar code.

The nominal size of a UPC symbol is 1.469" wide x 1.02" high. The minimum recommended size is 80% of the nominal size or 1.175" wide. The maximum recommended size is 200% of the nominal size or 2.938" wide. Width is much more important than height. The width influences the distance between the bars and how well the laser can distinguish between them.
Do I have to join GS1-US (in the USA) even if I just have one product to sell?
According to George Laurer, the inventor of UPC, if a company joined the Uniform Code Council (now GS1-US) prior to August 28, 2002, the Uniform Code Council's membership and licence agreement did not contain any prohibition against subdividing the numbers. These four companies in the United States that are issuing single UPC numbers are Simply Barcodes (, (, (, ( and ( This appears to have been a side consequence of the class action settlement reached December 15, 2003 in the Superior Court in and for the state of Washington, county of Spokane. The product numbers from these companies are legitimate, however they will only be valid for as long as the companies are in business. There is a question as to the status of these numbers if the company desolves. Any contract with these companies should be reviewed by your attorney.

Bar codes for flexo printing.
Unger has the software to create bar codes for you, if you are creating your own bar code for a label that will be printed flexographically you should apply a BWA (band width adjustment) of -.0025" to compensate for press gain.
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