A printed barcode is string of numbers and letters represented as a series of lines on the paper. The barcode scanner reads the barcode by sensing the differences in the pattern of light and dark lines. There are several standards that define the pattern of lines on the barcode.
Lines too small, barcode won't scan
If the spaces between the lines are too small, then the barcode scanner won't be able read the barcode. Whether a barcode will be able to scan depends on many factors:
- Quality of the barcode scanning hardware
- Quality of the barcode printer (blurry lines make scanning harder)
- Amount of light when scanning (too much or too little)
- Physical condition of label: dirt or damage
- How many numbers and letters are in the barcode
- Standard used for the pattern of lines
Before labeling a large number of items, we recommend testing the labels with the scanner you plan to use under the environmental conditions you will be scanning in (for example, in a dimly lit warehouse or outside on a sunny day).
To make barcodes scan more reliably, by default Finale does not print the actual product id, packing, and lot id in the barcode. Instead, the default label templates included with Finale use a "short code" created by the software. A short code is a 12 digit number assigned by the software to each combination of product id, packing, and lot id. The 12 digit number is a valid UPC code (just like you would find on retail products) within the set of number defined for restricted circulation items within a company. This means that the number should not collide with any UPC codes you receive on products from other companies.
The short codes assigned scan reliably because no matter how long the product id and the lot id is, the barcode only has to store 12 digits. Additionally, the UPC standard scans more reliably than the barcode standard (Code-128) used for general information barcodes since it is limited to only include numbers.
Although not the default, Finale can both print and scan barcodes that contain arbitrary information such as product id, lot id, or any other field defined on the product. You may need to do this if you would like to scan the barcodes for use with other software. This requires customization of the default templates used for printing labels and careful consideration of the amount of data printed relative to the size of the label. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and assistance if you would like help setting this up.