Encoding Umlauts, Accented Characters and Unicode into a Barcode

Datamatrix with german Umlauts ÄÖÜ

Accented, Diacritic Characters and Umlauts with 2D Matrix Codes

All common 2D barcodes support direct encoding of accented ("á ñ ò" etc.) and diacritic ("Ä Ö Ü" etc.) characters from the Extended ASCII ISO 8859-1 code page. This covers most Western languages. The code above shows a Data Matrix code with german umlauts, data content: "ÄÖÜäöü".

The popular and wide-spread QR Code also supports encoding Unicode characters. This allows encoding non-latin scripts like Japanese directly into a barcode.

Sample QR encoding german Umlauts and japanese Kanjis, data content: "ÄÖÜ日本語abc":

QR Sample Umlaut Unicode

QR with Unicode-data is supported by many online readers, e.g. Google Zxing. On iOS, the native "Camera" app also decodes QR codes with Unicode as do many Android reader apps. Still, we recommend thorough testing if your application involves that kind of data content.

More about the various 2D barcode symbologies, all pages also have sample barcodes with Extended ASCII characters:

Note: All Softmatic barcode generators and extensions support encoding Extended ASCII characters into 2D barcodes (QR: Extended ASCII and Unicode). Extra formatting, pre-processing or escape sequences are not required.

Accented, Diacritic Characters and Umlauts with Code 128

In principle non-ASCII characters like German Umlauts (e.g. "ÄÖÜ") can be encoded in a Code 128 symbol by using a special character (FNC4) immediately followed by the Extended ASCII code of the character minus 128. However, this feature is not widely supported by scanners and reader apps and very cumbersome to use in practice. Using a 2D barcode symbology will in most cases be a better choice.

Unicode and Umlauts with EAN / UPC Barcodes

The common retail barcodes UPC-A and EAN 13 encode digits only; they can not be used to encode Unicode, umlauts or letters in general.

Create Barcodes with Umlauts, Unicode in Illustrator, InDesign

Easy to use barcode extensions support all common 2D symbologies:

The Softmatic barcode plug-ins and extensions for InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop are available on the Adobe Exchange.

More barcode generators on our products page.