Barcode Colour Guides

Barcode scanners rely on an infrared light to scan a barcode. This means certain colour combinations are invisible to scanners, even if they are discernible to the human eye. Careful consideration should be taken at the design stage to ensure the product will scan at POS.

Some general guidelines for barcode colours are:

– Vertical bars should appear darker than the background colour.
– Scanners cannot “see” the vertical bars if warm colours are used e.g. Orange, Red and Yellow. These colours however can be used for backgrounds within reason.
– Blues, Blacks, Greens and Browns are easily picked up by the scanner and are ideally used vertical bars
– Reflective surfaces are unsuitable for scanning.  This is because of light reflected back at the scanner which interferes with the scan
– The quiet zones either side of the vertical bars are critical. It is strongly advised to leave the quiet zones intact and not reduce them.

The most optimal and widely adopted colour combination is black bars on a white background.  Below are some examples of other acceptable and unacceptable colour combinations.   If unsure about a colour combination email us at

Note – some smartphone apps may return a scan of a barcode that is using an unacceptable combination.  This is due to the app relying on a camera, not infrared light.  A retail scanner will not be able to successfully scan the same barcode.

Scannable Colours

Non Scannable Colours

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