How to Read Barcode Data Into MS Access Databases

Written by emily ediger
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How to Read Barcode Data Into MS Access Databases
Save time by scanning bar codes into a Microsoft Access Database. (barcode_02 image by Perth from

Speed up your bookstore, retail or library processes by inputting data using a bar code scanner. Bar codes offer efficient and accurate data input, removing the risk of incorrect number entry. A Microsoft Access database is an ideal application to input and store this information. Several types of bar code scanners are available; some require software to interface with the database and some need no configuration. But any type reads barcode data into an appropriate Microsoft Access database field.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Open the table, query or form in Microsoft Access that the bar code data will be input into. Any field that allows alphanumeric entry will read bar code data, such as book ISBNs, UPC codes and staff ID badges.

  2. 2

    Plug in a wand or laser scanner into either the keyboard or computer tower, depending on the model. Connection types include USB, keyboard wedge and serial. Install any additional software as needed by the bar code scanner, which will work between the scanner and the Microsoft Access database.

  3. 3

    Select the number, text or memo field that your bar code data will be entered into with your cursor. Yes/No, Currency, AutoNumber, Date/Time and OLE object fields will not allow bar code data input because of their information restrictions.

  4. 4

    Scan bar code into the selected field, either using a "keyboard wedge" or "serial" type output. A keyboard wedge scanner outputs data as if typed through a keyboard. A serial bar code scanner requires additional software and adds an extra step to input data into the Microsoft Access field, but it allows you to edit the data before storing it in the database.

Tips and warnings

  • Most bar codes can be read using a standard bar code scanner, but more complex 2D bar codes require a scanner specially configured to it.
  • Pen or wand bar codes must be swiped against a clean, smooth label. Laser scanners work best when held at a distance, encompassing the bar code.

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