My Barcodes Aren’t Scanning

Barcodes Aren't Scanning

So, your barcodes aren’t scanning and you feel like tearing your hair out. Before you become a crazy person, check out these common issues and if that doesn’t help – call the experts at PaladinID. We are barcode printing experts and will be happy to help. (888) 972 – 5234

Barcodes Aren't Scanning

There are a few reasons why your barcodes aren’t scanning properly. Typically is one of three things:

  1. Is your equipment suited to your barcodes?
  2. Your scanner isn’t being operated properly
  3. Are your barcode labels suited to your application or environment?

Your equipment isn’t suited to your barcodes

Is it your scanner? How old is your scanner?  Is it linear or 2D? Most barcode scanners are pretty good at reading both, however, some older or models may only be able to read linear barcodes.

If your scanner has stopped working, let’s check the settings.

Auto-discrimination. This detects barcode language. Is auto-discrimination enabled? If not, try enabling it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Turning on auto-discrimination can be a tricky business. If you have been advised to turn it off or have only been given the option for certain barcode languages, ensure that your settings allow scanning with all types of symbols. If you are unsure, give us a call. We can walk you through it. (888) 972 – 5234


Programming a barcode scanner can be daunting, but not to worry – there are many different options for programming styles and compatibility with your specific needs. Be sure you check both the software that comes on your printer as well as any additional equipment or supplies before starting so nothing is left up in the air!

You may need to reprogram your scanner, ordering a new scanner, or trying a different type of barcode. We can help with all of these things!

Are You Scanning at the Optimal Angle or Distance?Barcodes Aren't Scanning

If you have determined it isn’t a problem with your auto-discrimination or programming,  you may be scanning incorrectly.

The two most important factors when it comes to a good scan technique are angle and distance.


Bar codes usually have an optical character recognition system or scanner that can read barcodes with ease, but there’s often glare from lights shining off these symbols as well as differences in contrast depending on what surface they’re printed upon (glossy vs matte). To avoid glare, it is best to place or hold the labeled object at an angle that minimizes reflections.


Every scanner has a specific read range or depth of field. The read range is defined by the size of barcodes being read, so the smaller the barcode, the closer the scanner needs to be. However, you shouldn’t have to be extremely close to the bar code just because it’s small!

Some scanners are best suited for close range (or even contact scanning). Some are designed to read barcodes from further away for quick scanning, inventory, or in a manufacturing or shipping environment as items pass by on a conveyor belt.

Review the specs and user manual of your scanner. Experiment with angle and distance recommendations to find an ideal method.

Your Bar code Labels Aren’t Suited to Your Application or Environment

So, it’s not your programming, and your angle and distance are fine. Now what?  It could be the print quality of the barcode or the label is dirty or damaged.

Bar code Image Quality

This is a printer issue. First, determine if you have the right printer.  Is it capable of printing the resolution you need (in most cases it will be)?  is your printer able to print in at least 300 dpi? This is considered standard for most applications.

If you have really small bar code labels and trying to print a lot of data, you may have an image resolution issue.

If your printer meets dpi requirements but your bar codes still aren’t scanning, look into the operation of maintenance of your printer.

Printer Speed Options

If your printer has multiple speed options, which one are you using? If you have been printing at the highest speed, try lowering the speed of the printer.  Speed can compromise quality. Even though your printer can handle 300 dpi, it may not be capable of that quality when running at 12 inches per second.

Have you replaced your print head recently?

When is the last time you cleaned your printer head?  If you aren’t sure how to do this, give us a call. We can help. We also have one of the best printer head warranty programs in the business. (888) 972 – 5234

Is your printer dirty or damaged?

Warehouses, factories, and other busy environments can produce dirt, dust, and harsh chemicals that can affect printers and labels.

A scanner cannot get an accurate read if dirt and grime are covering even just a section of your barcode.

Harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, and abrasion can also lead to barcode damage. Are your labels peeling, smeared, or scratched?

Protect your barcodes. Take a look at your print technology, is it the most durable option? Print-on-demand labels should probably use thermal transfer technology, as it’s the most durable print-on-demand technology. What to switch? PaladinID can help.

Bar code Scanning Wrap Up

There are a lot of things that can interfere with the readability of your barcodes. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can correct scanning issues on your own. We hope we have been some help. If you weren’t able to fix the problem, we’d love to help.

Please give me a call at 888.972.5234 or send me an Email.  You will be glad you did.

For more information on PaladinID


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We have over 35 years of providing exceptional service and labeling products to the world.  Take the first step to an easy, stress-free solution for your label needs by contacting us.

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Make Your Mark

“Making companies more competitive by offering the correct label printing solution, on time, within budget, while creating unmatched value”.

About PaladinID, LLC
PaladinID develops and supports high-performance barcode labeling applications. We work with our clients to “Make Your Mark” by providing the expertise and tools necessary to create an entire product label printing solution. Located in central New Hampshire, PaladinID has been serving Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New England, and beyond for over 30 years, and in 2017, became an RFID-certified company. We look forward to working with you.

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