I have printed a Code 128 barcode but my scanner doesn't read or scan it

This can have several reasons:
  • Make sure that the code symbology Code 128 is actually activated in the barcode scanner. Consult your scanner's manual.
  • The print quality must be adequate. For Code 128, a resolution of 200dpi or higher is recommended. Also, make sure that the code is not printed too small. The minimum module width (i.e. the width of the narrowest bar) should not be below 0.3 mm. The height should not be below 10 mm. A space (the so called "quiet zone") of at least five to ten millimeters should be left around the code.
  • By default, many scanners require a barcode to encode at least four characters. If so, a barcode with only three characters will not scan. Check your barcode scanner's manual.
  • With Code 128 almost all barcode readers on the market today will will expect a checksum with the barcode. If the code does not scan you may have created it without a checksum.
  • Finally, when using a so called barcode font, you might have to add start and stop symbols to the data. When using a barcode font in office applications like Word or Excel, you can't just simply select the data and change the font. Code 128 is a very advanced barcode type which requires preparing your data for use with a font. Usually a macro, add-in, or stand-alone app will be supplied with the font that handles all necessary steps. See the manual of your barcode font software.
Use the following verified sample barcode to test the settings of your scanner. It encodes nine characters, has the required start/stop symbols, the proper checksum, and sufficient quality.

Right-click and "Save as..." to print the barcode out. A good CCD scanner or imager will also be able to scan the code directly from the screen.

Barcode scanners for reading Code 128

Please make sure to see our barcode scanner buying guide. We describe the different scanner types and discuss the available options to connect a barcode scanner to your computer.

We can recommend the following barcode scanners for reliably reading Code 128:

Zebra/Motorola Symbol LS2208

USB connected laser scanner. Suitable for POS, warehouse, lab etc. It has a nice working range of up to 17" (43cm), ideal if you have to scan barcodes that are out of reach, like on shelves or behind desks.

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Honeywell Voyager 1250G

USB connected laser scanner with stand for hands-free operation. Suitable for checkout, warehouse, lab etc. The scanner is triggered automatically when a barcode is in front of it.

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Zebra/Motorola Symbol LS4278

A cordless (Bluetooth) laser scanner with battery and charger / docking station. Suitable for point-of-sale, warehousing, lab etc. Very convenient, simple plug-and-play installation and operation.

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Label Printer for Code 128

DYMO LabelWriter 450

Affordable USB connected thermal label printer for Windows and Mac. Cheap consumables, compatible with Word, Excel, Quickbooks, Paypal, Ebay.

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Brother QL-700 High-speed Label Printer

Very fast thermal label printer, up to 90 labels per minute. Can print long banners. Comes with convenient built-in cutter. USB connected.

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Prints labels up to 4.19" (c. 110mm) wide. Very fast, prints more than 120 address labels per minute. High-res print head, ideal for barcodes.

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Creating compliant Code 128 barcodes

For the creation of compliant, working barcodes like the one above, see our barcode software Softmatic BarcodePlus. This software is very easy to use. Simply select "Code 128", enter your data and the code is created right away:

The software is available for Mac and PC.

For mass creation of Code 128, see Softmatic BarcodeFactory, available for Mac and Windows.

Creating Code 128 barcodes in Excel

Our Excel barcode add-in is ideal for creating Code 128 (all variations including GS1/UCC) in Excel; simply select your data, click "Create Barcode" in the ribbon, and the barcodes are written in the same or the adjacent cells. No programming, no VBA, no macros required:

              Code 128 in Excel

Read more about creating barcodes in Excel.