Chapter 3. Choosing the Right Font and Size

Vector graphics are often described as can be scaled indefinitely without degrading. While this assertion holds true in many cases, it is not true when the dimension is small and the resolution of the drawing surface is low. All drawings are eventually converted to pixels, and the size of pixel imposes a severe restriction on barcode quality.

This release has taken the pixelization into count when the font was designed. As long as you follow the instruction below you should be able to create high quality barcodes, even at small dimensions on low resolution printers.

3.1. Font Selection

Unless special condition dictates otherwise, in general you should choose from the two fonts: MRV DataBar 13X and MRV DataBar 34X. The former produces barcodes at 13X (i.e. the bar height is 13 times the X dimension) and the second at 34X. In order for the barcode to read omnidirectionally, you should always use MRV DataBar 34X to creating omnidrectional capable barcodes, such as DataBar and DataBar Expanded.

Table 3.1. Font Selection Based on Barcode Type

Barcode TypeTotal HeightFont to UseEncode Function
DataBar1434XMRV DataBar 34XDataBar
DataBar Truncated13XMRV DataBar 13XDataBar14
DataBar Limited13XMRV DataBar 13XDataBarLimited
DataBar Stacked13XMRV DataBar 13XDataBarStacked
DataBar Stacked Omnidirectional34XMRV DataBar 34XDataBarStackedOmni
DataBar Expanded34XMRV DataBar 34XDataBarExpanded
DataBar Expanded Stacked>=71XMRV DataBar 34XDataBarExpanded
Code12834XMRV DataBar 34XCode128_Uni
GS1-12834XMRV DataBar 34XEAN128_Uni

Because GS1 DataBar Expanded Stacked may have multiple rows, the total height depends on the number of rows: height = 34X + (number_of_rows)*37X

3.2. X Dimension

Although font characters scale linearly and print any sizes required, not all sizes will produce best quality barcodes. The reason is that printers can only address individual pixels instead of a length specified in inches or centimeters. For example, a printer dot measures 3.33 mils [3] on a 300-dpi printer. Certainly you can not print a size smaller than 3.33 mils. And you can not consistently print a length of 5 mils, because this printer either prints 3.33 mils, or 6.66 mils in this case. We call a font size optimal when the dots produced always remain constant. This is vital to small size barcodes where the barcode quality largely depends on the constant width of elements. On the other side, this is usually not a problem when X dimension is big enough (such as 15 and 20 mils).

The optimal sizes for DataBar fonts are integral times of 4 on a 300-dpi printer, integral times of 2 on a 600-dpi printer and integral times of 6 on a 203-dpi printer.

The following table lists all nominal X dimensions and font size correspondence for fonts MRV DataBar 13X, MRV DataBar 30X and MRV DataBar 34X.

Table 3.2. X Dimensions List

Font SizeX DimensionFont SizeX Dimension
6 pt[a]5 mils0.013 cm28 pt[b]23 mils0.059 cm
8 pt[b]7 mils0.017 cm30 pt[a]25 mils0.063 cm
10 pt8 mils0.021 cm32 pt[b]26 mils0.065 cm
12 pt[a] [b]10 mils0.025 cm34 pt28 mils0.071 cm
14 pt12 mils0.029 cm36 pt[a] [b]30 mils0.076 cm
16 pt[b]13 mils0.034 cm38 pt31 mils0.080 cm
18 pt[a]15 mils0.038 cm40 pt[b]33 mils0.084 cm
20 pt[b]17 mils0.042 cm42 pt[a]35 mils0.088 cm
22 pt18 mils0.046 cm44 pt[b]36 mils0.092 cm
24 pt[a] [b]20 mils0.050 cm46 pt38 mils0.097 cm
26 pt22 mils0.055 cm48 pt[a] [b]40 mils0.101 cm

[a] Optimal size for 203-dpi printers

[b] Optimal size for 300-dpi printers

The characteristics for screen fonts (MRV DataBar 13X 96dpi) and (MRV DataBar 34X 96 dpi) are explained later in the chapter.

For example, supposing that X-dimension required is 15 mils, from Table 3.2, “X Dimensions List”, the optimal size is 18 points on a 600-dpi printer. [4]

3.3. MRV DataBar EM

In order to create a stacked barcode, the gap between two adjacent lines must be zero. Unfortunately, not all applications handle line gaps correctly, including some well-known programs, such as Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Viso.

When creating DataBar Stacked Ominidirectional and DataBar Expanded Stacked barcodes, the two rows overlap in those applications, as illustrated below.

Some applications allow you to adjust line height. Others do not offer options to adjust line height. For the latter case you may attempt to replace the font with MRV DataBar EM and to see if the problem is solved. This font was design to have its character height match the point size.

However, the barcode created using this font is only the half size of the one created using other fonts. In order to match the size, you need to increase the font size to twice the original size. For example, to match a barcode created under 12 points using MRV DataBar 34X, format with 24 points with MRV DataBar EM.

Formatted with MRV DataBar 34X 12 points, line height at 100% (Microsoft Visio)Formatted with MRV DataBar EM 24 points, line height at 100% (Microsoft Visio)

For workaround in Adobe Illustrator, see

3.4. Screen Fonts

Two complementary fonts, MRV DataBar 13X 96dpi and MRV DataBar 34X 96 dpi are supplied for on-screen use. Some painting programs rasterize text under screen resolution. Some graphics APIs do not allow you to specify a resolution value when converting text to bitmaps.

Barcodes displayed on screen with the two screen fonts at designated font sizes are screen copyable. You can use this method to quickly create a bitmap image for your web site while retaining high barcode quality. You can also use the fonts in programs such as Microsoft Paint.

Because the size of a screen pixel is relatively large (10 mils), the available selection of X dimensions is limited. See the table below for the font size list:

Table 3.3. X Dimensions List for Screen Fonts

Font SizeX DimensionFont SizeX Dimension
12 pt10 mils0.025 cm24 pt20 mils0.050 cm

3.5. Other Considerations

Fonts are easy to use and portable among systems. On the other side, font characters scale in both directions. That means it is impossible to get both sizes match exactly in some cases. The bar height always scales up and down at the same time X-dimension scales up and down.

Considering the potential customization requests to meet special needs, Morovia offers custom font services at reasonable cost. For example, we can create a font that meets both bar height and X dimension requirements accurately. Note that this service is offered only to customers who already purchased a license of the font, and the license term of the modified font follows the product to be replaced. If you have such needs, contact us at .

[3] 1 mil = 1/1000 inch.

[4] Note that 18 pt is not an optimal size for a 300-dpi printer. On the other side, it is an optimal size for a 203-dpi printer.