An EAN-13 is the European analogue to the 12-digit Universal Price Code (UPC) found on most American consumer products. An EAN-13 starts with a two-digit number that identifies the country or region numbering authority that issued it, whereas a UPC begins with one digit. Otherwise, the formats are the same. An EAN-13 also contains a five-digit manufacturer code, a five-digit product code and a check digit. This last digit is calculated according to an algorithm and serves to validate an EAN-13. Calculating the check digit manually can be tedious, but is nonetheless simple.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Paper and pencil
Write down an EAN-13. For example, 5010017088439 is the EAN-13 from a European consumer product.
Number the digits in the EAN from right to left, ignoring the check digit (the last digit), which you will compute. The number without the check digit is 501001708843. Number the digits 1 through 12, counting “3” as the first digit and “5” as the last.
Add the odd digits: 3 + 8 + 0 + 1 + 0 + 0 = 12. Multiply the answer by 3: 12 x 3 = 36.
Add the digits in even positions: 4 + 8 + 7 + 0 + 1 + 5 = 25.
Add the results from Steps 3 and 4: 36 + 25 = 61.
Subtract the number in Step 5 from the next multiple of 10. In the example, the next multiple of 10 after 61 is 70, so you should subtract 61 from 70: 70 - 61 = 9. This is the check digit in the EAN in Step 1.
Visit a check digit calculation site, such as the Morovia Library’s UPC/EAN/SSCC/GTIN/ISBN Utilities site (see Resources). Enter the first 12 digits of an EAN in the second box under “Number,” next to “EAN-13 (UCC-13).” Click on the “Calculate” button to the right and read the check digit in the “Check Digit” column, to the right of the “Number” column. In the example, you enter 501001708843, click on the button and read the answer, which is 9. This agrees with your calculations.
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