Barcode Placement for Dummies: Everything Your Boss Wants to Know

You’ve probably, by now, read many of our blogs about barcodes and their role in the manufacturing process, so now let’s straighten you out – so to speak – about how the barcode should be placed so that it can quickly and efficiently be read by a scanner. To be perfectly honest, to call this topic “Barcode Placement for Dummies” is sort of an oxymoron; on the surface, barcode placement should be a relatively elemental, common sense process, should it not? Even still, we believe there’s some merit in explaining the ins and outs of this manufacturing sector protocol.

What’s more, you may find yourself in a situation wherein your superior wants to know more about how you decide on a barcode placement strategy for the product he or she has come up with – in this case, you will now be better equipped to provide strategic answers.

Placement on Packaging: Why it’s Important

Where you put the barcode on a package can impact the ability of scanners to read your barcode. In a general sense, you would place the barcode in the lower right-hand section of the back of the package for items that get scanned at checkouts; we always recommend avoiding the edge of the package and allowing for enough white space surrounding the barcode to help ensure a clean scan.

Additionally critical is for the printed surface to remain smooth so that nothing interferes with the scanner’s ability to read the barcode.

There are other guidelines we tend to suggest for bagged items, large/bulky items, items with curved surfaces, tags and non-packaged items for checkout, in addition to guidelines for items scanned in warehouses or distribution centers. The primary point we like to stress is that consistency of barcode placement is critical to successful scanning – with manual scanning, variation of barcode/symbol placement makes it difficult for the scanning operator to predict where the bar is located, thus reducing efficiency. When automated scanning is in place, the bar must be positioned so that it will pass through the field of vision of a fixed scanner as it travels past. Indeed, taking into consideration our guidelines will result in the consistency and predictability required in the manufacturing sector.

While there are an almost infinite number of factors to take into consideration when discussing barcode placement for nearly every item available for consumption, we’re going to break it down into three major areas for an easier understanding: Consumer Packages, Outer Packages and Pallets.

Barcode Placement for Consumer Packages

General guidelines for barcode placement on consumer packages have traditionally stated that:

  • Each package must only have one barcode.
  • If possible, the barcode should be placed at least eight millimeters and at most 100 millimeters from any edge of the package.
  • The barcode must be placed low down on the back of the package, preferably on the right.
  • Placing the barcode on the bottom of the package should be avoided.

These guidelines apply to such consumer packages as jars/other cylindrical items, multipacks, right-angled items, bags/other soft packages and bottles.

Barcode Placement for Outer Packages

General guidelines for barcode placement on outer packages generally state that:

  • An outer package must be marked so that the barcode can be read even if the package is on a pallet.
  • At least one side of the outer package must be marked with a barcode.
  • If the package cannot be turned when on a pallet, two sides should be marked.
  • The barcode must not be placed on the bottom of the package.
  • In the grocery sector, if only one side of the package is marked with a barcode, then the packages must be stacked on the pallet so that the barcode is on the same side as one of the pallet labels.

Barcode Placement for Pallets

When dealing with pallets in the manufacturing sector, the logistic unit must be marked with labels on two adjacent sides – one short side and the long side to the right of the short side.


  • The labels must be placed at least 50 millimeters from the edge.
  • The labels must be placed so that the barcodes are at least 400 millimeters and at most 800 millimeters from the bottom.

With a plethora of proven inventory management solutions that include mobile warehouse data collection, shop floor data collection and integrated shipping solutions, Insight Works understands everything when it comes to barcodes and scanning. Contact us today if your boss wants to know how you can improve your manufacturing operations.