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Code 39 Medium, Text

Picture of Barcode

Font sizing and scaling

Using the 'ABC Code 39, Medium Text' font with a 300 dpi inkjet or laser printer and good quality paper you should be able to achieve consistent barcodes printed at a density of up to about 10 characters per inch (0.4 chars per mm) and this will be achieved by selecting a 12 point font size. Under good conditions it may be possible to print smaller. However few barcode scanners will be capable of reading such ultra high density barcodes. Below 12 points a 300 dpi printer will suffer from aliasing problems and sometimes smaller sizes give better results than larger. In tests we found 7 and 9 point sized barcodes were better than 8 and 10 point sizes. We found 7 point barcodes to be about the smallest to print clearly and this is far beyond the resolution range of any barcode scanner we know.

Most applications do not need such high densities and it is good practice to print at larger sizes so any barwidth errors introduced by the printing process are minimised. A good size to aim for is about 24-26 points. Many barcode scanners of the CCD type have a maximum barcode width of about 2.3 inches (60mm) so it is a good rule of thumb to print up to this width but not beyond it. Particularly if you do not know how the barcode will be scanned. The following table shows the approximate barcode size alongside the selected point size. The suggested optimum size barcode for regular work is 24 or 26 points.

per inch
Width of 10
of bars
 12   10   1"   25mm   0.32"   8mm   High density 
 14   8.7   1.15"   29mm   0.4"   10mm   High density 
 16   7.7   1.3"   33mm   0.44"   11mm   Compact 
 18   6.7   1.5"   37mm   0.5"   12mm   Compact 
 20   6.2   1.6"   40mm   0.56"   14mm   Medium 
 24   5.1   1.95"   49mm   0.7"   18mm   Medium 
 28   4.4   2.25"   57mm   0.8"   20mm   Medium 
 32   3.9   2.55"   65mm   0.86"   22mm   Large 
 36   3.5   2.85"   73mm   1.0"   26mm   Large 
Dimensions are approximate

Start and Stop characters

In any 'Code 39' barcode the start/stop character must always be present as the first and last character in the barcode character string. If they are not present the barcode scanner will not be able to recognise the barcode.

The start/stop character is generally represented in the human readable text as the * character.

Want to try it out?

A working copy of the ABC39180 font (with some character restrictions) is available for downloading. A readme file, which includes more detailed information, is packaged with the font.

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