Linear Bar Code Module

This article describes the use of the Linear Bar Code Module for DesignMerge software for creating variable linear bar codes. The Linear Bar Code Module is an optional component of the DesignMerge Pro and DesignMerge Catalog software packages that allows for the placement of fully variable linear (one-dimensional) bar codes in an Adobe InDesign document.

CHECK YOUR INDESIGN VERSION

The instructions presented here are for Adobe InDesign 2022 and newer versions of the software. If you are running Adobe InDesign 2021 or any older version, please click here to visit the Legacy Bar Code Documentation on this site.

BAR CODE TRAINING VIDEO

A complete bar code training video is available on this site. The video includes a brief introduction to bar coding in general, followed by several in-depth examples that take you through the process of creating and styling both Linear and 2D bar codes. Please click here to access the Bar Code Training Video on this web site.

LOOKING FOR 2D BAR CODE SUPPORT?

The remainder of this document contains details specific to producing Linear Bar Codes with DesignMerge software. For information about the creation of 2D Bar Codes, please click here to view the 2D Bar Code Module documentation on this site.

BAR CODE FONTS

All of the Linear and 2D bar code formats supported by DesignMerge are font-based. The Linear and 2D Bar Code module licenses include access to a royalty-free set of bar code fonts. These fonts are licensed for use only with DesignMerge software in conjunction with the optional Linear or 2D Bar Code Modules, and should not be used for any other applications. You must install this set of fonts in order to create variable bar codes using DesignMerge software.

Where to Download Bar Code Fonts

The Linear and 2D bar code fonts should have been included in the download for your DesignMerge software installer. If you do not have the bar code fonts, please click here to download the fonts now. Please install the linear bar code fonts before proceeding with the remainder of this document. If you are also running the 2D Bar Code Module, please install the 2D bar code font as well.

HOW TO CREATE A VARIABLE LINEAR BAR CODE

To create a variable link for a bar code, your data file should contain the raw, unencoded data that you wish to encode as a linear bar code. After running your Data Source Setup to create your variable links, you will then modify one or more of your variable links to assign a special link type called a Barcode link. This will instruct the link to import and automatically translate/encode the raw data into a text format appropriate for the selected bar code format. All that remains is to apply the appropriate font to the link once it has been placed in your document.

The linear bar code fonts are provided in a number of different sizes. Each size will create a bar code with a slightly different bar height. Please choose the bar code size that matches the desired bar height for your application. You can also adjust the bar code width/height by adjusting the point size assigned to the text.

Please follow the steps below to create a Barcode variable link.

  1. Open the Variable Links dialog Select the link that will import the bar code data.
  2. Click the Barcode tab, and use the Format popup menu to select the bar code type.
    You will notice that the icon next to the link changes to a bar code indicating that the data being imported will be converted for use with the selected bar code format.
  3. Click OK to close the document.
    You are now ready to place the bar code link in your document.

PLACING THE BAR CODE LINK IN THE DOCUMENT

The newly created Barcode link can now be placed into the document like any other text variable link. You can assign the link to a range of text (a text link), or to an entire text frame (a frame link).

The only thing now remaining is to apply the appropriate font. The Linear Bar Code Summary Table below lists each of the available bar code formats, along with the name of the bar code font that should be applied to the link.

When you start your merge session, the data will be imported and encoded for use with the selected bar code format. If you have the correct font applied, you should now see a fully scannable bar code appear in your merged document.

When you first apply your bar code font, the code may look a bit strange. This is because the characters in the link have not yet been encoded. To preview a bar code, simply start up a merge session to bring in the actual encoded data, or use the Bar Code Utility to generate sample data, as described below.

BAR CODE ERRORS

All of the bar code formats have different data requirements. The Linear Bar Code Summary Table below provides details about the data values and lengths supported by each format. If your data does not conform to the specifications for a given bar code, this will result in an error being displayed during the merge session (see example error message below):

The bar code data being merged will also be replaced with a representative error message, and the font will be changed automatically so you can easily see the error message in the document.

Don’t worry – the font for the very first character of the link is not changed, so if you repair the data condition it will still pick up the correct bar code font the next time you do a merge.

LINEAR BAR CODE UTILITY

The Linear Bar Code Module includes a handy utility that can assist you when working with bar code data. The utility accepts as input the raw data to be encoded (same as the data read from your data file), and performs the encoding and data translation for you. The resulting, translated data can then be copy/pasted directly into your InDesign document. When you apply the correct font, you will have a fully scannable, static bar code.

Please follow the steps below for an example of how to use the bar code utility to create a test Code 128 bar code for your document.

  1. From under the DesignMerge menu, select Options > Linear Bar Code Module > Bar Code Utility…
  2. Use the Type dropdown menu to select the Code 128 bar code format.
  3. Enter the data to be encoded into the Data area.
    For this example, enter ‘ABC123def’
  4. Click the Format Data button.
  5. The encoded version of the raw data will be placed into the Code: area on the dialog window.
    If the data does not meet the requirements for the selected bar code, an error message will be presented.
  6. Now copy the encoded data to the clipboard and paste it into your document.
  7. Finally, apply the correct font to the data to create the bar code.
    For this example, apply the font MPS Bar Code UNV S

    Be sure to test your bar codes by scanning them!

LINEAR BAR CODE SUMMARY TABLE

The table below lists all of the currently support bar code formats, and includes the name of the font that should be applied to the bar code data. The font name lists only the base name of the font. Each font includes several different sizes, which vary only by the height of the bars for the bar code. Choose the appropriate bar code size for your application.

BARCODE FORMAT FONT TO USE
USPS Intelligent Mail USPSIMBStandard or USPSIMBCompact

DATA: [Upper-case Letters] or [Postal Code Data]. For pre-sorted mailings, the USPS IMB data is typically generated automatically by the pre-sort software and will consist of a series of upper-case letters (which makes this data easily distinguishable when viewing the raw data file). For non-sorted data, see the USPS specification, or visit the the USPS Intelligent Mail article on this site.

NOTES: This bar code format is typically not required for standard USPS processing if your data has already been sorted and/or certified. In most cases the sorted data will contain a specific field for the USPS IMB data that is inserted automatically by your mail sorting software. The USPS IMB data field will consists of a series of upper-case letters. For cases like this, simply add a standard variable text link in your document that will merge in the converted USPS IMB data (the upper-case letters), and apply the font to the link. There is no need in this case to create a separate Barcode link to convert the USPS IMB data. For more details about this please see the USPS Intelligent Mail article.

Information from the USPS: The USPSIMBStandard font is USPS compliant when printed at 16 or 17pt (16pt is recommended by the USPS). The USPSIMBCompact font is USPS compliant when printed at 14, 15 or 16pt. Please note that when printed at 14pt using the Compact font, the barcode string may be less than 3 inches, and these barcode strings risk non-compliance when printed on imprecise printers.

Codabar MPS Bar Code UNV

DATA: [Digits] [- . $ / + :] [no spaces] [Length >=4 and <= 255 characters]

NOTES: Codabar is typically used for library and shipping labels. A check digit character is not supported.

By default, the software will automatically add the letter ‘A’ for the start character and ‘B’ for the stop character. If the variable link Prefix and/or Suffix is specified as part of the link definition, those characters will be used as the start/stop characters instead of the default values.

Code 39 MPS Bar Code UNV

DATA: [Digits] [UPPER-CASE LETTERS] [space – . $ / + %] [Length <= 255]

NOTES: Code 39 is a general purpose bar code format. Lower-case letters are not supported. The bar code does support the calculation of an optional check digit character.

Code 128 MPS Bar Code UNV

DATA: [Full ASCII Character Set (decimal 0 – 127)] [Length <= 255]

NOTES: Code 128 is a general purpose linear bar code that can encode the entire low-order ASCII character set from decimal 0 through Decimal 127. The bar code supports several subtypes (Code 128 A,B,C), each of which differ by the amount and type of data they can encode. The Code 128 barcode link will automatically select the appropriate Code 128 subtype to use based on the input data.

Some high-order ASCII characters may also be supported by this format. If you wish to encode characters that are in the low or high ASCII range (0-31 or 128-255), you can use the Tilde Mode format ~### where ### represents the three-digit ASCII value for the character you wish to encode (example: the character sequence ~013 will encode a RETURN character, ~065 will encode the letter ‘A’ and ~098 will encode the letter ‘b’). Tilde mode is enabled automatically whenever the ~### sequence of characters is detected in the input data. Please click here to view the complete list of characters supported by the Code 128 format.

EAN-8 MPS Bar Code UPCEAN

DATA: [Digits] [Length <= 7 Digits]

NOTES: EAN-8 is a numeric-only, linear bar code format used in retail applications, and is essentially a smaller version of EAN-13. The bar code expects 7 digits for the input data. Input data will be adjusted by the software if necessary.

ADJUSTMENTS: If the input data contains 8 characters, the last character is assumed to be a check digit. This check digit will be removed from the input data and re-calculated by the software automatically. If the input data contains fewer than the required 7 characters, the input data will be padded with leading zeros to exactly 7 characters in length.

EAN-13 MPS Bar Code UPCEAN

DATA: [Digits] [Length <= 12 Digits]

NOTES: EAN-13 is a numeric-only linear bar code used in retail applications. The barcode is essentially a superset of UPC-A. The bar code expects 12 digits for the input data.

ADJUSTMENTS: If the input data contains 13 characters, the last character is assumed to be a check digit. This check digit will be removed from the input data and re-calculated by the software automatically. If the input data contains fewer than the required 12 characters, the input data will be padded with leading zeros to exactly 12 characters in length.

Interleaved 2 of 5 MPS Bar Code UNV

DATA: [Digits] [Length <= 255 Digits]

NOTES: Interleaved 2 of 5 is a general purpose, numeric-only linear bar code.

ADJUSTMENTS: The input data must contain an even number of characters. If the input data length is an odd number, the input data will be padded with a leading zero. The bar code does support the calculation of an optional check digit character.

Interleaved 2 of 5 (TEXT) ANY (for Human Readable text only)

DATA: [Digits] [Length <= 255 Digits]

NOTES: Interleaved 2 of 5 (TEXT) is not a barcode format. This barcode type will return the raw data string to be encoded by the Interleaved 2 of 5 bar code. This barcode type can be used to return the adjusted data value (modified to ensure an even number of characters and to also include the calculated check digit character). The text string returned from this bar code type can be placed as human readable text below the Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode symbol. The bar code does support the calculation of an optional check digit character.

ADJUSTMENTS: The input data must contain an even number of characters. If the input data length is an odd number, the input data will be padded with a leading zero.

JAN-13 MPS Bar Code UPCEAN

DATA: [Digits] [Length <= 12 Digits]

NOTES: JAN-13 is a numeric-only linear bar code used in retail applications and is identical to the EAN-13 bar code. The bar code expects 12 digits for the input data.

ADJUSTMENTS: If the input data contains 13 characters, the last character is assumed to be a check digit. This check digit will be removed from the input data and re-calculated by the software automatically. If the input data contains fewer than the required 12 characters, the input data will be padded with leading zeros to exactly 12 characters in length.

MSI-Plessey MPS Bar Code UNV

DATA: [Digits] [Length <= 255 Digits]

NOTES: MSI-Plessey is a numeric-only linear bar code used primarily for inventory control, retail and shelf tags.

UPC-A MPS Bar Code UPCEAN

DATA: [Digits] [Length 11, 13 or 16 Digits]

NOTES: UPC-A is a numeric-only linear bar code used primarily for retail applications.

ADJUSTMENTS: If the input data contains 12, 14, or 17 characters, the last character is assumed to be a check digit. This check digit will be removed from the input data and re-calculated by the software automatically.

UPC-E MPS Bar Code UPCEAN

DATA: [Digits] [Length 7 or 11 Digits]

NOTES: UPC-E is a numeric-only linear bar code used primarily for retail applications.

ADJUSTMENTS: If the input data contains 8 or 12 characters, the last character is assumed to be a check digit. This check digit will be removed from the input data and re-calculated by the software automatically.