Audio, Video and Game Product Barcode Requirements

EMA/NARM Operations Committee

Updated as of January 23, 2009

The companies representing the NARM/EMA (National Association of Recording Merchandisers/Entertainment Merchants Association) Operations Committee strive for efficiency in processing music, video and game product through their distribution centers to their customers and retail stores in a timely and accurate manner.  

Readable and accurate barcodes are becoming increasingly more important since we are utilizing automation and scanning equipment throughout the supply chain (i.e. at the manufacturing facilities, distribution and return centers and the retail stores for automated processing, inventory management and registering POS sales).

Most of the companies representing NARM, EMA and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) are using outbound order filling and returns processing sortation equipment (i.e. Accu-Sort, Autologik, Beumer, Dorner, FKI Logistix, Mantissa, Professional Control Corporation, SI Technologies, etc.) The automation equipment uses barcode scanners (i.e. Accu-Sort, Sick, etc.) and runs at speeds up to 225 units per minute. Due to the speed of this equipment, it is important that the barcodes conform to all of the standards outlined below.

Barcode Essentials

  • Barcode is UPC/EAN symbology.
  • Barcode is a series of light and solid, black parallel bars. (no color barcodes nor barcodes generated by a dot matrix printer)
  • Optimal size of the barcode length is 1.16 to 1.469 inches. Optimal height is between .5 to 1.0 inches.
  • Overall shape of the barcode is rectangular and reads in a ladder or picket fence orientation (no diagonal barcodes).
  • The white space around the barcode is called the quiet zone. The quiet zone is necessary for the scanner know where to start and stop for reading an encoded value. A quiet zone around the entire barcode (top, bottom, left and right) needs to be a minimum 9 times the width of the narrowest line of the barcode. The quiet zone must be white.
  • Human readable numbers are usually found below the parallel bars. The human readable numbers must match the barcode!
  • If there are more than one barcode on the product (i.e. barcode on the back and spine of the product), the barcodes must match.

Recommended Placement

For audio and video products, the preferred barcode placement is on the upper right quadrant on the back of the product, respecting the proper quiet zone areas around the barcode symbol and the edge rule. Product barcode on the back of the product is a requirement! Having a barcode on the front of the product or on the spine ONLY is not acceptable.

Edge Rule

The barcode symbol must not be closer than 8 mm (0.3") or farther than 102 mm (4") from any edge of the package/container. Too close to the edge placement reduces retail point of sale and warehouse sortation efficiency.

Avoid Scanning Obstacles

Anything that will cover or damage a barcode symbol will reduce scanning performance and should be avoided.

  • Security seal and customer zip strip must be placed away from the barcode.
  • Seams, folds and seams of the shrinkwrap must be located away from the barcode.
  • Jewel case embossing must be located in an area away from the barcode.
  • Barcode must reside away from casing folds.
  • Artwork should not be integrated in with the barcode. Barcode must be solid, black lines on a white background.

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EMA - 11304 Chandler Blvd., #6339, N. Hollywood, CA 91601 - email