Transparent Barcodes

Most of the barcodes guidelines recommend make them as contrast as possible. Making it black on white simplifies barcode scanning especially in low light or other difficult conditions.

However, sometimes it is needed to place the barcode on top of some graphics and that’s when you need to make it transparent. Transparent barcode is effectively a barcode with transparent background. This tutorial shows how to control the background in barcode making software.

Configuring Barcode Colors

Let’s start with making a simple EAN–13 barcode by running Barcode Generator and clicking the default EAN–13 template. If you don’t have one you can make it with the “+” button or use any other barcode, as the colors work the same for all the symbologies. Once done open it for editing and switch to the second tab on the right and scroll to the very bottom of it:

Barcode color options in Barcode generator

There are two controls at the bottom named Front color and Back color which control the colors of the barcode. The former controls the barcode itself, while the latter controls the background. Let’s click the front color for now and see what it looks like:

Configuring barcode color Barcode generator

From top to bottom you will see a preview panel, CMYK and RGB color slider and the spot color name field. Barcode generator supports both CMYK and RGB colors, but stores the one you edited last. So if you need CMYK colors in your barcode, consider editing the CMYK values and the software will update RGB sliders accordingly. If you need RGB colors — edit the RGB values. The spot color field lets you name the color which helps if you are going to import the barcode in Illustrator or any other professional vector editing software.

Making Barcode Transparent

The back color selector looks pretty much the same with one subtle exception:

Configuring the background color of a barcode

There is a Transparent background option at the top. If you click it the preview will become checkered and all the color sliders will be disabled. This way you tell the software that the barcode will have no background. Click OK to confirm the change.

As the software itself uses a very bright working area background the difference is not that visible, but you can still notice that there is no white background behind the barcode anymore as it becomes a light gray, like the whole working area around.

The barcode is now transparent

If you don’t see it, try disabling transparent background back and replacing the white color with a more visible one to see the difference. Anyway, the barcode is now officially transparent.

Saving Transparent Barcode

The last, but not least is to save the transparent barcode so it keeps its transparency. Not all the file formats support transparency and not all the applications can read it properly, so you need to double–check if the saving format and the application you use are compatible.

The safest choice for raster output is to use PNG format for saving barcodes as PNG format supports transparency and is loaded properly by most graphics editors and web browsers.

For vector output it is a little bit more complex topic better covered in our Vector Barcodes tutorial, but you can start with PDF for CMYK colors and SVG for RGB colors.

Transparent barcode on gradient background

Once the transparent barcode is exported and loaded to other software, make sure it still has the transparent background and the background artwork does not affect the bars too much.

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