Can I use silver as the background for a Barcode?

Published in Design

Should a Barcode use a Silver or Gold background?


I wanted to print an image on a coffee age including a barcode but let the silver color of the aluminum foil show through and needed to know if the barcode would work with a silver background.

I wanted a straight answer for the question “Can I use silver as the background for a Barcode?” but couldn’t find the answer by itself, so to save others from having searching to find out if barcodes can be printed with a silver background and to have to read thorough loads of data, here it is:


Can/Should I use a silver background for a barcode?

No, not if you want to be sure it will work well. Don’t use silver as a background for a barcode. Although modern readers are much better than ever before it is inadvisable to use silver or gold as the background of a barcode.

Although it would be reasonable to assume that because light is reflected by the white part if the strip and silver also reflects it should work. It turns out it is inadvisable to replace the white part of a barcode with silver because metallic colours such as gold and silver can reflect the scanning beam at unpredictable angles.

With a barcode, what you want is high contrast between the dark bars and the light lines.

Here is some more advice for Barcode backgrounds:

  • Don’t use black in the background.
  • Don’t use more than 10% process blue;
  • Don’t use more than 50% in yellow and/or red, singly or in combination;
  • Never "reverse" a symbol. This converts the dark bars to light spaces and vice versa, and thus destroys the symbol

For more information on the colors you should use with barcodes check out this hand PDF: