How to scan and print barcodes

Written by raul avenir
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How to scan and print barcodes
Learn how to print and scan barcodes. (XXL Sale image by Perth from

The barcode is a printed representation of machine-readable data. It contains information about an item that can help facilitate the item's identification and tracking. Barcode information is represented by an image composed of printed black lines and patterns or symbols which are read by an electronic device called a barcode scanner. The barcode image is printed according to barcode standards using a barcode printer and stick-on paper. Learn how to scan and print a barcode to use this type of technology.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hand-held barcode scanner
  • Barcode printer
  • Barcode generating software

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  1. 1

    Download a barcode generating software or visit websites that offer barcode generation for free such as "," "" and "" (see Resources below). Enter the data that you wish to encode into the barcode in the space provided and click on the "Generate Barcode" button.

  2. 2

    Right click on the generated barcode image to display the drop-down menu and click on "Save Image As" to save the barcode image to your desired location in your computer.

  3. 3

    Choose the type of printer that you will use by clicking on "Start," "Control Panel" and "Printers and Faxes." Right click on the type of printer that you want to use, and click on "Set as Default Printer" in the resulting drop-down menu. Ordinary printers are able to print barcodes, but you will need to install a barcode printer if you want a printer that can print clearer and more accurate barcode images in large quantities.

  4. 4

    Look at the type of paper in the printer's paper tray and check if you have the correct paper size and type. Depending on the type of barcode software program that you are using and depending on the type of printer that you have chosen, barcodes can be printed on ordinary white bondpaper or on speciality papers designed for barcode printing only. Open the saved barcode image, right click on it to open a new drop-down menu and click on "Print" to print the barcode image.

  1. 1

    Turn off your computer. Look at the type of cable attached to your barcode scanner and note the type of connector that terminates the scanner's cable. A barcode scanner can have a keyboard connector, a USB connector or a serial port connector that will plug to its corresponding port on your computer. Locate the matching port and plug in your barcode scanner.

  2. 2

    Turn on your computer. Hold the hand-held scanner around 6 inches away from the barcode, with the light beam facing the barcode, and then press the scanner button briefly to activate the light beam.

  3. 3

    Check your computer screen to see if the data scanned by the barcode scanner was entered into the computer program that you are using. A barcode scanner is an input device that facilitates the data entry process. It reads whatever data is encoded into the barcode and transfers that data to whatever program is being used in the computer.

Tips and warnings

  • You can download a free or paid version of a barcode generating software and buy a barcode printer if you intend to use it to print larger quantities of barcode labels. Such software can contain special features that can make the barcode generation and printing much more easier and faster. Barcode printers can give you accurate and reliable barcodes using convenient paper types and sizes.

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