How to Get a Barcode Number

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A typical UPC barcode consists of a manufacturer identification number and an item number.
A typical UPC barcode consists of a manufacturer identification number and an item number. (Image: barcode_02 image by Perth from Fotolia.com)

When you have a product that's for sale, you will typically be required to have a barcode on that product whenever it's marketed by retail stores, distributors or re-sellers. The barcode serves as a unique identification number that helps identify products, maintain inventories, and track sales records. You can obtain a barcode for your product free of charge and it only takes a couple of minutes of your time.

Type "free barcode generator" into your search engine and select a generator that appeals to you.

Fill out the generator form. A typical form will ask you to enter your barcode symbology and your barcode text. More advanced generators will also allow you to enter more specific parameters such as width, output types, and rotation.

Click on the provided button to generate your barcode.

Select any additional options you'd like such as directly downloading your barcode, having your barcode emailed to you, or printing the barcode directly from the generator's website.

Scan the barcode to test it. A barcode is automatically readable by any barcode scanner as long as the image is clearly printed. You'll want to associate the barcode with a particular product. If you're a manufacturer of the product who doesn't use the barcode yourself, you may want to send a sample of the barcode to your retailers and distributors for testing. If you're a retailer or distributor, you'll want to enter the barcode digits along with the product information into your system and perform a test scan to ensure the item is linked correctly and working.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're unsure what barcode symbology to use, select code 128. Code 128 is a general selection that can be used universally with any item.
  • Ensure you choose your barcode symbology carefully. Certain codes can only be used for certain types of items.

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