There are many barcode types, and they can be confusing at first. While most retail products require an EAN or UPC barcode, there are many uses for other barcode types.

Here is a handy guide to what types of barcodes are required for various product categories.


Product                               Which barcode do I need?
Alcohol EAN barcodes
Art books (includes illustrated books with a title page and/or text or captions) ISBN barcode
Asset tracking Code 39 or code 128 barcodes
Artwork EAN barcodes
Atlases ISBN barcode
Audiobooks ISBN barcode
Board games, jigsaws EAN barcodes
Book – published (includes Braille, hardback, paperback, e-book) ISBN barcode
Book – non-published (includes colouring book, crossword, sudoku) EAN barcodes
Brochures and pamphlets ISBN barcode
Calendars EAN barcodes
Compact discs (CDs) EAN barcodes

ISBNs if the CD is prose or educational

Clothing & Footwear EAN barcodes
Comic books ISBN barcode
Cosmetics EAN barcodes
Coupons EAN barcodes – check with retailer you wish coupon to be used in
DVDs EAN barcodes

ISBNs if they are educational

Electronics EAN barcodes
Electronic newsletters / e-zines ISSN barcodes
Flash cards EAN barcodes
Food EAN barcodes
Garden products EAN barcodes
Graphic novels ISBN barcode
Greeting cards EAN barcodes
Historical documents ISBN barcodes
Homewares EAN barcodes
Journals and diaries Non-published use EAN barcodes

Historical or published diaries use ISBN barcodes

Library systems Code 39 or code 128 barcodes
Magazines ISSN barcodes
Maps ISBN barcodes
Medicines EAN barcodes
Music (tracks or albums, not sheet music) EAN barcodes
Pamphlets ISBN barcodes
Pictures and photographs EAN barcodes
Postcards EAN barcodes
Posters and art prints EAN barcodes
Serials (magazines, periodicals, etc.) ISSN barcode
Serials (magazines, periodicals, etc.) if being sold as a one-off book ISBN barcode
Sheet music ISMN barcode
Software EAN barcodes
Stationery items EAN barcodes
Supplements & Vitamins EAN barcodes
Tools EAN barcodes
Toys, including stuffed animals EAN barcodes