Choosing the right Barcode Colours

Retail scanners use infrared light to read a barcode. This means that certain colour combinations are invisible to barcode scanners, even if they are discernible to the human eye. Some colour combinations work well and others don’t.  When deciding on a colour combination for your barcode first consider the following guidelines.

– The vertical lines must always appear darker than the background colour of the code
– The scanner will not ‘see’ warm colours such as Yellow, Red, Orange and White. These make for good for background colours
– Colours such as Blue, Black, Green and Brown are picked up by the scanner and should be used for the vertical bars
– Reflective surfaces are not suitable as they reflect light back at the scanner and will interfere with the scan
– The quiet zones are critical for successful scanning. This is the white space either side of the bars Never alter or reduce the quiet zones.

The most widely used and successful colour combination is black bars on a white background. Illustrated below are some examples of other acceptable colour combinations and some examples of unacceptable colour combinations. If unsure about a colour combination email us at and we’ll assist you.

Scannable Colour Combinations

Non-Scannable Colour Combinations