Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Generate 2D Barcodes in Excel

by Nate Schubert

Generating 2D barcodes from fonts in Microsoft Excel is more complicated than generating standard linear barcodes from fonts because Excel does not recognize line breaks or carriage returns when the data is being encoded in Excel. This results in a barcode display that does not stack the individual lines of encoded text. Instead, these blocks are laid out horizontally to form a rectangle rather than a square. This is not a readable 2D barcode. While the IDAutomation Barcode Add-In may not be directly compatible with Excel, there are a few alternatives that we can explore.

ActiveX Barcode Controls

The easiest component to use for generating 2D barcodes in Excel is the Linear + 2D Barcode ActiveX Control. This component can be dropped into a particular cell on a template to generate dynamic barcodes, or used individually in spreadsheets to generate static barcodes. The IDAutomation ActiveX Linear + 2D component is capable of generating all of the linear barcodes from the standard package in addition to the following 2D barcode types:
  • Data Matrix (ECC200, also conforms to UID label marking standards)
  • PDF417
  • MaxiCode
  • Aztec
Installation and usage instructions are provided in the User Manual and are specific for Microsoft Excel, Word, Access, FrontPage, Visual Basic, Visual C++ and Visual FoxPro.


Word Mail-Merge with the 2D Font and Encoder for Windows

Where Microsoft Excel is unable to properly recognize line breaks and carriage returns in encoded data, Microsoft Word does not have this problem. As a result, many customers are able to use this workaround to perform a Word Mail-Merge to combine all of the data and resulting barcodes into Excel. This will work with any IDAutomation 2D Barcode Font and Encoder for Windows (with the exception of QR), the more affordable of the two font and encoder packages offered for each 2D barcode type. Each product User Manual will contain installation and usage details, and each product also has it's own demo available for testing. A Barcode Mail Merge Video Tutorial was created by our staff to provide a visual instruction for this use.

Due to complications in how the QR symbology is created, QR barcode generation is not possible using fonts or the ActiveX Control at this time. Users may prefer the Linear + 2D Barcode Image Generator or the Barcode Label Software Pro to generate QR in Excel. 

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