Softmatic Barcode Extension for Adobe Illustrator

The Softmatic Barcode Extension for Adobe Illustrator 2021 or higher supports the common retail barcodes EAN 8/13 and UPC-A and will also create ISSN and ISBN barcodes for books and periodicals. All barcodes are guaranteed to conform to the GS1 standard.

Features of the plugin include bar width reduction, height truncation, automatic check digit calculation and more. The barcode extension works stand alone, no online access, external components or barcode fonts required. AI documents with barcodes have no dependencies and can be freely shared.

A sample AI document showing the supported barcode symbologies (download):

Current version:

Windows: V1
Mac: V1

System requirements:

macOS 10.12 or higher
Windows 10 or higher
Adobe Illustrator 2021 (Version 25) or higher

Supported barcode symbologies:

Retail barcodes: EAN 8, EAN 13, EAN 13 with Add On, ISBN 10 / 13 with Add On, UPC-A, ISSN

Note: EAN 13 is referred to by many other names, e.g. JAN, EAN 99, EAN Velocity, etc.. All those codes are ordinary EAN 13.


After purchasing through the Creative Cloud Marketplace, the extension will automatically be installed in your local extensions folder. Close Illustrator before installing.
After installation, reopen Illustrator. The extension can be found in Illustrator menu bar > Window > Extensions.

Default settings

With the first launch of the extension, the following settings are used:

Code type: EAN 13
EAN Size: SC2
Data to encode: 401234567890
Add-on: None
Light margin indicator: Yes
Human readable text: Yes
Height: 100%
Bar width reduction: 0%

Choose barcode type

Choose the desired barcode type from the list of available codes:

Code EAN 8
Code EAN 13
Code ISBN 10
Code ISBN 13
Code UPC-A

If you choose a code type that is incompatible with the given data, an error message is displayed. An example with invalid data ("abc123") for EAN 13:

Enter the data to encode and set barcode options

After choosing the barcode type, enter the data to be encoded and make the appropriate settings:

EAN 87 or 8 digitsEAN size, truncation, no addon
EAN 1312 or 13 digitsEAN size, truncation, addon, indicator1
ISBN 10ISBN 10 Nr., e.g. 1-123-12345-XEAN size, truncation, addon, indicator1
ISBN 13ISBN 13 Nr., e.g. 978-1-123-12345-6EAN size, truncation, addon, indicator1
ISSNISBN Nr., e.g. 1234-5678EAN size, truncation, addon, indicator1, 2
UPC-A11 or 12 digitsEAN size, truncation, addon1

To update the preview, hit <Enter> after you entered your data.

1) EAN 13, ISSN, ISBN 10, ISBN 13 and UPC-A can carry a satellite, or "add on", barcode. This add on can encode two or five digits.

2) To provide a variant no. for ISSN, append the two digit number to your ISSN, separated by semicolon, e.g. 1234-5678;05. If no variant is specified, "00" will be used.

Note 1: With all barcodes, the software will always recalculate the respective check digit for the selected code. For example, when using EAN 13, it doesn't matter if you enter 12 or 13 digits. If it's 12, the software will append the check digit, if it's 13 the software will overwrite the last digit with the check digit. This behavior is by design to prevent data entry errors and to guarantee that a valid symbol is created.

Note 2: Barcodes are generated in pure black ("K") against a transparent background. For acceptable color combinations with colored backgrounds, see for example here. As a rule, we advise against non-black barcodes.

Add barcode to Illustrator

Once the preview is updated and shows a valid barcode, click "Insert Barcode" to add the barcode to your Illustrator document. The barcode will be added to the top most layer of the currently active document. Make sure that this layer is not locked or hidden or a barcode can not be placed.

Do not scale or stretch the barcode after it was placed as this may render the code unusable. If the code has the wrong size, simply delete it and create a new one.

Tip: To prevent accidental changes, consider locking the barcode object or keeping it on a dedicated layer and then lock the layer.

Bar width reduction

To compensate for dot gain during printing. Ask your print shop for recommendations.

Reasonable values:
  • Offset printing: 1-2%
  • Laser printing: 1-2%
  • Thermo-, thermotransfer printing: 0%
  • Inkjet printing: Plain paper - 5%, Inkjet paper - 1-2%
  • Pad printing: up to 10%