Barcode ITF-14 Explained

ITF-14 Barcode Sample

ITF-14 is an application of Code 2/5 Interleaved that encodes a 14-digit GTIN (for Global Trade Item Number). ITF is short for Interleaved Two of Five, hence the name ITF-14. Shorter GTIN-13 (EAN 13 numbers) and GTIN-12 (UPC-A numbers) can be encoded by prepending the data with zeroes, see below. A so called bearer bar or frame can be put around the code. The frame has a defined thickness of 4.83mm (0.190"), independent of the selected module width and -height.

ITF-14 Size and Dimensions

GS1 recommends the following settings for ITF-14:

  • Module width: 1.0mm (c. 0.04") or higher
  • Module height: 25mm (c. 1") or higher
  • Wide / narrow ratio: 2.25 - 3.00, typical 2.5
  • Quiet zone: min. 10x module width

Based on those recommendations, an ITF-14 barcode symbol with bearer frame is roughly 150mm (6") wide and 35mm (1.35") tall, making it far bigger than for example an EAN 13 barcode. Such a code can be reliably scanned with standard barcode laser scanners from a distance of up to 0.5-1m (max. 3ft.). Depending on the situation (e.g. when scanning the barcode from longer distances or on high-bay shelves) larger dimensions or, alternatively, long-range barcode scanners may be required.

Sample ITF 14 Barcode

The sample show the variants of ITF-14 barcodes: Without frame, bearer bars above and below, frame around the code:

Sample ITF-14 Barcode with bearer bar style

The "framed" style (#3) is used when the code is printed on carton, corrugated cardboard or similar materials. ITF-14 with top and bottom bars or without bars are used when printing on adhesive labels.

ITF-14 Short Scanning

The underlying Code 2/5 Interleaved symbology suffers from a major design flaw: The bar / space pattern of the stop character can also occur within a symbol. In this image the stop character (wide bar, narrow space, narrow bar) is marked in red, note the same pattern within the symbol (blue):

In some situations (for example when scanning from an angle) the scanner might stop scanning in the middle of a symbol if it detects a white space after the pattern of the stop character; this is called a "short scan":

The top and bottom bars of an ITF-14 barcode prevent this short scanning.

ITF-14 Applications

IFT-14 barcodes are used to designate packaging levels of individual products such as boxes of 12 cans or boxes of 24 cans. As such they are not meant to be read at the point-of-sale or checkout but rather during transport, in receiving and in the warehouse. The first digit of the GTIN-14 describes the packaging level which can be any number between 1 and 8. The actual meaning of the packaging level is not standardized and depends on the context; staying with the boxes-of-cans example, level 1 may denote 12 cans per box while level 2 denotes 24 cans.

Per convention, if the first digit of the GTIN-14 is "0", only the contained thirteen digit EAN / GTIN-13 number will be read and transmitted. This makes it possible to encode EAN / GTIN-13 numbers into an ITF-14 code simply by left-padding them with "0", see next section.

Convert EAN 13 / GTIN-13 to ITF-14

Any EAN 13 number (aka GTIN-13) can be converted into an ITF-14 by prepending a "0" to the thirteen-digit EAN. As the leading zero is indifferent to calculation of the check digit, the EAN 13 check digit will also be the ITF-14 check digit.

Example of a EAN 13 / GTIN-13 no. ("5400141288766") and the corresponding ITF-14 (note the identical check digit "6"):

ITF-14 vs UPC-A

As with EAN, any UPC-A number (aka GTIN-12) can be encoded into an ITF-14 by prepending zeroes to the twelve-digit UPC to fill up to 14 digits. As the leading zeroes are indifferent to calculation of the check digit, the UPC-A check digit will also be the ITF-14 check digit.

ITF-14 vs GTIN-14

ITF-14 encodes a GTIN-14, the barcode is simply a machine-readable representation of the GTIN.

ITF-14 Human Readable Textline

It is common practice to split the GTIN-14 number into it's components for the textline. The individual parts are usually package level, country code, manufacturer ID, item number, and check digit, all separated by blanks; see sample ITF-14 in the previous section. With the dimensions as listed above, the font size should not be below 20pt. An OCR-B font as shown is preferred, also acceptable are Helvetica, Arial and similar sans-serif font faces.

It is not permitted to put additional text (lot numbers, expiry dates etc.) near the barcode.

Create ITF-14 in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign

Easy to use barcode plug-ins and extensions for Adobe InDesign, Illustrator und Photoshop. For more videos, see the Softmatic Youtube Channel

Stand-alone software for Code ITF-14

Softmatic BarcodePlus V5 creates ITF-14 and will export the barcode as PDF / SVG (resolution-independent vector) oder raster image (PNG, TIFF). The app supports codes without frames, with bearer frames and with top / bottom bars:

See it in action:

ITF-14 Batch, Bulk Generator

For batch creation of ITF-14 codes, use Softmatic BarcodeFactory V5. The software will create thousands of symbols in seconds, with data coming from the built-in serial number generator, the clipboard or via import from Excel, Numbers or CSV text files. The app supports codes without frames, with bearer frames and with top / bottom bars: