Softmatic Barcode Extension for Adobe Indesign

The Softmatic Barcode Extension for Adobe Indesign 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. Indesign documents with barcodes have no dependencies and can be freely shared with your printer or coworkers.

A sample ID 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 Indesign 2021 (Version 16) 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 Indesign before installing.
After installation, reopen Indesign. The extension can be found in Indesign 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 Indesign

Once the preview is updated and shows a valid barcode, click "Insert Barcode" to add the barcode to your Indesign document. The barcode will be added to the current page of the currently active document, with the top left corner of the barcode element at the center of the page.

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 1: To prevent accidental changes, select and right-click the barcode on the page and choose Lock from the context menu.

Tip 2: When the barcode is displayed blocky like a low-res image, adjust the display settings in View > Display Performance. Alternatively, activate View > Overprint Preview.

Export barcode from Indesign

The created barcode is an SVG file that is listed in the Links panel:

For your convenience, the barcode file has been embedded into the document (note the "Photo" icon in the panel). This is by design so that the document containing the barcode can be easily shared with others which is the typical use case. If you want to export just the barcode from Indesign, right-click the file in the panel and select Unembed link. You are then presented with the option to link to the original file or to a new location. Select "No" and select the desired output folder. The barcode will then be exported, the file name set to the encoded data.

Note: Adobe applications like Illustrator or Indesign assume a resolution of 72 SVG units per inch and the SVG containing the barcode has been created specifically for this resolution. The exported SVG may display or load incorrectly in other applications.

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%