Barcode Colour Guide

The optimal colour combination for barcodes is black bars on a white background.   Barcode Scanners use infra-red light to read barcodes.  Only certain colour combinations will scan, while others will not be picked up at all (see the charts below).

Barcode Colour combination guidelines –

– Warm colours such as yellow, red and orange cannot be seen by a scanner.  These are only appropriate for backgrounds.
– Cool colours such as blue, green and purple can be seen by a scanner. These are appropriate for the vertical bars.
– Sufficient contrast between the bars and background is required to ensure a good scan.  The vertical bar colour must be considerably darker than the background colour.  Temporarily converting your barcode image to greyscale in graphics software can indicate if you have sufficient contrast.
– The vertical bars must all be the same colour.
– Reflective surfaces and metallic inks cause light to be reflected back to the scanner.  It is best not using these to avoid scanning issues.

Please Note: Smartphone scanning apps do not work the same way as retail scanners.  This is because Android & IOS scanning apps use a phone’s camera, not infra-red light. If a colour combination scans on a smartphone app this does not automatically mean it can be scanned using a retail scanner.  We suggest testing artwork proofs on a retail scanner or arranging an interim barcode verification report.

If you are uncertain about a colour combination please contact us.

Combinations that will scan –

Combination that won’t scan –