How To Generate & Print ISSN Barcodes

Barcode Information | Tutorials | Examples


The ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is used to identify serial publications, which are publications that are issued in numerical order, such as the volumes of a magazine. Serial publications include periodicals, annual reports, yearbooks, journals, transactions, newspapers, and more. ISSN numbers also apply to electronic publications that exist on the Internet but do not include commercial websites, blogs, or web pages, which contain only links to other Internet URLs. This tutorial will take you through the process of creating an ISSN barcode for any of the above serial publications using the IDAutomation Barcode Image Generator software.

How to Get an ISSN Number

ISSN registration is free of charge, and both ISSN International and National Centers assign the 8-digit number depending on the type of serial publication, whether the publication is intended for international or national distribution, and whether there is a national center located within the country of origin. If no national ISSN center exists in the specified country, the International Center is responsible for ISSN assignment. Once the ISSN number is received, it should be displayed on the cover of the publication, in the upper right corner.

Purchase an ISSN Barcode Generator

Generating an ISSN barcode requires an EAN13 barcode. The Barcode Image Generator software is used to create the ISSN barcode in this tutorial, although in other cases it may be better to use IDAutomation’s UPC/EAN Barcode Fonts. If other types of barcode automation are preferred, IDAutomation offers a variety of barcode font encoders, components, and stand-alone applications for this exact purpose.

Generate the ISSN Barcode


For printed serial publications, the ISSN barcode number should be displayed on the upper right-hand portion of the cover. If this is not possible, other acceptable locations are with the copyright or publisher information. In the case of electronic serial publications, the ISSN barcode number should be displayed on the home or title pages.

An ISSN barcode is composed of 5 different sections:

  1. “ISSN” must precede the number
  2. The numbers 977 should follow “ISSN”
  3. The first 7 digits of the ISSN (the 8th digit is an ISSN check digit and is discarded when encoding with EAN13)
  4. 2-digit price code, usually 00
  5. EAN13 check digit

Encoding an ISSN number into an EAN13 barcode varies in complexity based on how the information is being encoded. To encode the ISSN manually, begin the data to be encoded with 977 followed by the first 7 digits of the ISSN, then the 2-digit price code which is usually 00. Using the image example above, an ISSN 2496-5524, the data to be encoded should be 977249655200. After this, the EAN13 check digit must be added to the end of the string. To calculate the EAN13 mod10 check digit manually, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Starting with the first number on the right, take the sum of all odd numbers (977249655200) and multiply by 3 to get 75.
  2. Starting with the second number on the right, take the sum of all even numbers (977249655200) to get 31.
  3. Add the results from steps 1 & 2 to get 106.
  4. The difference between the step 3 result and the next highest multiple of 10 is the EAN13 check digit. In this case, the next highest multiple of 10 is 110 and the difference between 110 and 106 is 4.

Because manually calculating check digits can be complicated, IDAutomation offers a free online barcode font encoder that automatically calculates the Mod10 check digit for an EAN13 barcode in addition to several other symbologies. The Barcode Image Generator used in this tutorial contains a useful capability that allows automatic check digit calculation simply by checking the appropriate box.

The step-by-step process to create an ISSN barcode using the Barcode Image Generator is as follows:

  1. Install the UPC/EAN Barcode Font Package.
  2. After the EAN13 font is installed, install the Barcode Image Generator.
  3. Open the Image Generator. Under the Barcode Properties tab in the Data to Encode in Barcode field, enter the 12-digit ISSN number beginning with 977 and ending with 00. The last digit
    of the ISSN number is a check digit; which is automatically encoded with the Barcode Image Generator when the “Use Check Digit” check box is populated.
    For example 977249655200
    Choose 1.80 for the Bar Height and .050 for the X dimension.
    Choose EAN13 for the Symbology.
  4. In the Text & Color Properties tab, make sure the  Show Human Readable Text and Show Check Digit in Text check boxes are populated.
  5. In the Caption Properties tab, click the set button for the Upper Caption Font and select the font of your choice.
  6. In the Upper Caption text box on the Caption Properties tab, enter the ISSN number (with dashes) preceded with the text “ISSN.”
  7. In the Image Properties tab, choose the resolution of the image (if unsure, select 300) and select Bitmap for the image type.
  8. Choose Generate Image File and save the image to the hard drive. The ISSN is now ready to be imported and placed in the serial publication. If it is desired to create multiple ISSN labels, this same process may be used with IDAutomation’s Barcode Label Software.

Reading & Testing ISSN Barcodes

When the EAN-13 barcode of the ISBN number is scanned, the data should equal the numbers printed below the barcode on the publication. A common method of reading and testing barcodes is with a hand-held barcode scanner. Most of the barcode scanners recommended by IDAutomation perform keyboard emulation and receive power from the USB port so that no external power
supply is required. When a barcode is scanned using keyboard emulation, the data read appears at the cursor as if it had been typed in from the keyboard. Most barcode scanners have the ability to read ISSN barcodes by default, such as the hand-held IDAutomation USB Barcode Scanner.

Related Information Links