How to Create a Bar Code on Excel for Free

By Paul Knorr

Putting a bar code on equipment or other items makes it easy to keep track of them. Instead of typing in a long number, a quick scan with a bar code reader eliminates keystrokes.There are many different types of bar codes. The most well known is the UPC or Universal Product Code, found on almost all retail items sold in the United States. The UPC format only supports the encoding of numbers.Other formats such as Code 39 (also known as Code 3 of 9) support letters as well as numbers.

Things You'll Need

  • A TrueType bar code font in the desired format
  • Microsoft Excel 2007

Step 1

Locate a free TrueType font for the desired bar code format. For example, the Code 39 bar code format has several different TrueType font packages available for free. Use an Internet search engine and type "Code 39 TrueType font" to find an available, free font.Some specialized formats may not be available free of charge due to copyright or other restrictions.

Step 2

On your Windows PC, select the Start menu and click on the Control Panel. Inside the Control Panel application, click “Switch to Classic View” and change the look of the panel.Now find the "Fonts" icon and double click to open it. Under the File menu, choose “Install New Font." This will open a dialogue menu, asking you to locate the font you want to install. Browse to the download folder containing the TrueType font file. Select the font and click OK when prompted to install it. The new bar code font will now be available within Excel.

Step 3

Launch Excel and enter “76543" in cell A1. This will be the value that is converted to a bar code.

Step 4

In cell B1, enter the following formula: “=CONCATENATE("*", A1, "*")” and press enter. The result should be “*76543*”. The Code 39 format requires that an asterisk character be at the start and end of the text to be encoded. Other bar code format will have different rules.

Step 5

Change the font in cell A1 by choosing a different font from the drop down menu at the top of the screen in Excel. Under the "Home" menu, scroll down to the “Free 3 of 9” font and select it. The text in the cell will now appear as a bar code. Increase the font size to a minimum of 28 point so that a scanner can pick it up accurately when scanned.

Tips & Warnings

  • Code 39 requires an asterisk at the start and end of the text to be encoded. Other bar code formats require different starting and ending characters or numbers. Leaving these out will make the printed bar code unreadable by a scanner.
  • The technique described here will not work with the more advanced two dimensional and data matrix style bar codes. This will only work with traditional “linear” bar code styles.