Softmatic Barcode Extension for Adobe InDesign

Easy barcode creation directly in your InDesign document. The Softmatic Barcode Extension for Adobe InDesign CC 2021 or higher supports all common retail, warehousing and 2D barcode symbologies. All barcodes are guaranteed to conform to the respective GS1 and ISO standards.

Barcodes can be widely customized with options for size, readable text and bar width reduction to compensate for dot gain during printing. The extension performs all required data formatting and check digit calculation in the background - no macros or programming required.

The barcode extension works stand alone, no online access, external components or barcode fonts required. InDesign documents with embedded barcodes have no dependencies and can be freely shared.
  • Sample ID document showing barcode symbologies on different pages (download)
  • Sample PDF with all supported code types on a single sheet (download)
  • Narrated video walkthrough (watch)

Current version:


System requirements:

macOS 10.15 or higher
Windows 10 or higher
Adobe InDesign CC 2021 (Version 16) or higher

Supported barcode symbologies:

● EAN 8
● EAN 13 (with optional add-on)
● ISBN 10 (with optional add-on for price)
● ISBN 13 (with optional add-on for price)
● ISSN (with optional add-on)
● UPC-A (with optional add-on)
● Code 128 A, B, C
● Code 128 GS1
● Code 2/5 Interleaved
● Code 2/5 Industrial
● Code ITF-14
● Code 39 / 39 Extended
● PZN 7 / PZN 8
● Laetus
● Codabar
● Datamatrix (2D)
● Datamatrix GS1 (2D)
● PDF 417 (2D
● QR (2D
● Aztec (2D)

Note: EAN 13 is referred to by many other names, e.g. JAN, EAN 99, EAN Velocity, etc.. All those codes are ordinary EAN 13.


Purchase through Adobe Exchange

Locate the extension on the Creative Cloud Marketplace.

After purchasing, the extension will automatically be downloaded and installed in your local extensions folder. Close InDesign before installing. After installation, reopen InDesign. The extension can be found in InDesign menu bar > Window > Extensions.

If the automatic install fails, you can anytime install manually: In the Creative Cloud app navigate to Stock & Marketplace > Plugins > Manage Plugins. The extension should be listed in this panel. Close InDesign and then click the "Install" button next to the listing. After installation, reopen InDesign.

Note that the extension is tied to the Adobe ID that was used for purchasing.

Purchase through the Softmatic Online Store

Follow the instructions here for installation; on first launch the extension will prompt you for the license key which you should have received after checkout in the store.

Default settings

With the first launch of the extension, the following settings are used:

Code type: EAN 13
EAN Size: SC2
Data to encode: 401234567890
Add-on: None
Light margin indicator: Yes
Human readable text: Yes
Height: 100%
Bar width reduction: 0%

Choose barcode type

Choose the desired barcode type from the list of available codes.

Note that the settings panel changes with the selected code; in the left screen, the extension shows settings that apply to Code EAN 13 (e.g. SC size or margin indicator); in the right screen, settings for Code 128 are displayed (module width and - height):

If you choose a code type that is incompatible with the given data, an error message is displayed. An example with invalid data ("ABC123") for EAN 13:

Enter the data to encode and set barcode options

After choosing the barcode type, enter the data to be encoded and make the appropriate settings:

EAN 87 or 8 digitsEAN size, height, no addon
EAN 1312 or 13 digitsEAN size, height, addon, indicator1
ISBN 10ISBN 10 Nr., e.g. 1-123-12345-XEAN size, height, addon, indicator1
ISBN 13ISBN 13 Nr., e.g. 978-1-123-12345-6EAN size, height, addon, indicator1
ISSNEight digit ISSN Nr., e.g. 1234-5678EAN size, height, addon, indicator1, 2
UPC-A11 or 12 digitsEAN size, height, addon1
UPC-E7 or 8 digitsEAN size, height, no addonMust begin with "1" or "0"
Code 128Digits, letters, ASCII character set (max. 64 chars)Module width, -heightAutomatic selection of Code 128 sub types A, B, C. Code 128 is always created with a check digit.
Code 128 GS1Digits, letters, parenthesized application identifier (max. 64 chars)Module width, -heightAutomatic selection of Code 128 sub types A, B, C. Code 128 GS1 is always created with a check digit.

Enter your data including application identifiers, e.g. (01)1234567890. The software will automatically insert all required FNC1 symbols.
Code 2/5 InterleavedDigits 0-9 (max. 64 digits) Module width, -height, check digit
Code 2/5 IndustrialDigits 0-9 (max. 64 digits)Module width, -height, check digit
Code ITF-14Digits 0-9 (13 or 14 digits), with spacesModule width, -heightProvide a complete 14-digit GTIN including the GTIN check digit, e.g. "1 54 00141 28876 3". If 13 digits are given the app will calculate and append the GTIN check digit, separated by a space. Recommended settings for module width: 1mm minimum, -height: 25mm minimum

Software will add "bearer frame". The bearer frame has a thickness of 4.83mm (0.190") per GS1 specifications, sec.
Code 39 / 39 ExtendedDigits, letters (max. 64 chars)Module width, -height, check digitAutomatic selection of Code 39 / Code 39 Extended
PZN 7/87 or 8 digitsModule width, -heightSoftware will assemble PZN. Recommended settings: Module width: 0.25mm, -height: 8-20mm
LaetusDigits 0-9, max. value 131070Module width, -height
CodabarDigits 0-9 (max. 64 digits)Module width, -heightSpecify start / stop symbols with your data, e.g. A123456A. Available start / stop symbols are "A", "B", "C", "D". Codabar is always created without a check digit.
DatamatrixUp to 2000 chars, extended ASCII setDot sizeSquare modules, width = height
Datamatrix GS1Up to 2000 chars, extended ASCII setDot sizeSquare modules, width = height

Enter your data including application identifiers, e.g. (01)1234567890. The software will automatically insert all required FNC1 symbols.
PDF 417Up to 2000 chars, extended ASCII setDot sizeModule ratio height : width = 3 : 1
QRUp to 2000 chars, Unicode compatibleDot sizeSquare modules, width = height
AztecUp to 2000 chars, extended ASCII setDot sizeSquare modules, width = height

To update the preview, hit <Enter> after you entered your data.

1) EAN 13, ISSN, ISBN 10, ISBN 13 and UPC-A can carry a satellite, or "add on", barcode. This add-on can encode two or five digits. With ISBN codes, the add-on is used to encode pricing.

2) To provide a variant no. for ISSN, append the two digit number to your ISSN, separated by semicolon, e.g. 1234-5678;05. If no variant is specified, "00" will be used.

Note 1: With all retail barcodes, the software will always recalculate the respective check digit for the selected code. For example, when using EAN 13, if you enter twelve digits, the software will append the check digit, if you enter thirteen the software will overwrite the last digit with the check digit. This behavior is by design to prevent data entry errors and to guarantee that a valid symbol is created.

Note 2: Barcodes are generated in pure black ("K") against a white background. As a rule, we advise against non-black barcodes.

Text options

The extension comes with a built-in OCR-B compatible font. The text under the code can be configured with these options:
  • Human readable text Deselect to create the barcode without text line. With ISBN / ISSN, the text line above the barcode will also be omitted. 2D barcodes are always created without text; this is by design.
  • Font size Font size of text unter the code. Only available for non-retail codes; with retail barcodes the font size is calculated automatically to fit the text under the code.

Add barcode to InDesign

Once the preview is updated and shows a valid barcode, click "Insert Barcode" to add the barcode to your InDesign document. The barcode will be added to the topmost layer on the current page of the currently active document, with the top left corner of the barcode element at the center of the page.

Make sure that this layer is visible and not locked or a barcode can not be placed with the following error message:
InDesign Layer Locked
Do not scale or stretch the barcode after it was placed as this may render the code unusable. If the code has the wrong size, simply delete it and create a new one.

Tip: To prevent accidental changes, select and right-click the barcode on the page and choose Lock from the object context menu.

Display settings

For performance reasons, InDesign features different settings for display quality. With standard or low quality settings, the barcodes may look unsharp or blocky like a low-resolution image, example:

InDesign barcode graphic blocky unsharp display

For best display quality, select menu View > Display Performance > High Quality Display. Note the difference:

InDesign barcode graphic sharp smooth display

Export barcode from InDesign

The created barcode is a vector graphic that is listed in the Links panel:

V1.0.0 - V2.0.0: The barcode is embedded as a 72dpi base resolution SVG

V2.1.0 or higher: The barcode is embedded as a resolution independent PDF

For your convenience, the barcode file has been embedded into the document (note the "Photo" icon in the panel). This is by design so that the document containing the barcode can be easily shared with others which is the typical use case. If you want to export just the barcode from InDesign, right-click the file in the panel and select Unembed link. You are then presented with the option to link to the original file or to a new location. Select "No" and select the desired output folder. The barcode will then be exported, the file name set to the encoded data.

Bar width reduction

To compensate for dot gain during printing. Not available for 2D barcode symbologies. Ask your print shop for recommendations.

Reasonable values:
  • Offset printing: 1-2%
  • Laser printing: 1-2%
  • Thermo-, thermotransfer printing: 0%
  • Inkjet printing: Plain paper - 5%, Inkjet paper - 1-2%
  • Pad printing: up to 10%


Will the extension work with InDesign CS5 or CS6?

No. The minimum supported version is InDesign 2021 (V16).

Can I use the extension for data merge?

Right now, the extension is only suitable to create individual barcodes through user interaction, one at a time. Data merge is not supported.

Can I return the extension if it does not meet my requirements? What's your refund policy?

Obviously, we want our customers to be happy with their purchase. Should you find that the extension doesn't work for you, we can offer a full and unconditional refund within 30 days of purchase. Please contact us at webb AT softmatic.com.