Barcodes & QR Codes

Can I Create a Barcode System in Excel?

June 21, 2024 • 6 min read

While most businesses that wish to implement a barcode inventory system ultimately select inventory management software with barcode and QR code features, some organizations choose to create a free barcode system within Excel. This article will walk you through the process of creating a barcode inventory system within Microsoft Excel. 


Can I Create a Barcode System in Excel?

Yes, it is possible to create a barcode inventory system in Excel. While the process takes some effort, some small businesses choose to perform barcode and QR code inventory management within Excel instead of shifting to an automated inventory management software system. 

In general, the easiest way to create a barcode system in Excel is to download and install a barcode font. This font will transform the number values you’ve assigned to inventory within Excel into barcodes that you can manually create labels for and affix to your inventory.

Free Ebook: The Complete Guide to Barcoding Your Inventory

This easy, comprehensive guide will help you:

  • Implement a barcode inventory system for your business
  • Generate your own unique barcodes
  • Practice perpetual inventory control with barcoding

How to Create a Barcode System in Excel

The following instructions will walk you through how to create a free barcode inventory system for Excel. Remember that if your business stocks a significant amount of inventory, the following steps—especially the syncing and the label creation process—may feel like too much work. In that case, your organization might want to consider barcode management software designed to streamline that process.

1. Review and create an inventory list

If your business has not done so already, the first step to performing barcode and QR code inventory management within Excel is creating a robust inventory list. An inventory list should articulate every single item your business keeps in stock across all locations. Since the goal is to create a barcode inventory system in Excel, this list should also be maintained in Excel.

To do this, use the barcode system template offered later in this article or add this information to whatever spreadsheet you currently use to track inventory. Include all pertinent details about your inventory, from item name to location to quantity in stock to minimum quantity to be kept on hand. You will also need to create a column for that numeric code that will ultimately become a barcode. 

Since a barcode is twelve digits, pick twelve, 0 – 9, for each unique code.

Related: What is a Barcode?

2. Download a barcode font for Excel

Next, before you can actually generate bar codes within Microsoft Excel, you’ll need to select and install an appropriate barcode font. There are a variety of popular and free or inexpensive barcode fonts you can download, so choose one that works for your organization.

Here is how to install a barcode font for Excel:

  1. Search for a safe way to download a barcode font. Code 39 is popular.
  2. Once downloaded, locate the zip file and select “Extract All.”
  3. Within the unzipped file, identify the .TTF file and select it.
  4. Click the install button on the .TTF file and proceed.
  5. Once installed, exit the dialog box to complete installation.

3. Generate the barcodes within Excel

Now that your barcode font is ready, prepare your spreadsheet to create those barcodes using the number values you’ve already inserted into the barcode number column. 

Select the column of the number codes you’ve already assigned each item, and then locate the “Number” tool you typically use to change numbers into dates, times, etc. You want to ensure that Excel reads these numbers as “Text” and not anything else.

Once you’ve confirmed that, ensure these numbers are still highlighted, and then find the “Font” tool within Excel. Simply change the font to Code 39 or whatever barcode font you’ve downloaded. Those numbers should now appear as barcodes.

Challenges of using Excel for barcode creation

While creating barcodes for your inventory using Excel can be quick and inexpensive, there are also some shortcomings to consider. For starters, your inventory will not automatically be synced with the barcodes you’ve created. You will still need some kind of barcode scanning system to connect the dots between items and barcodes, and that syncing process will still require time and resources.

While the barcodes you’ve created may look and feel official, you’ll still have a fair amount of work to do to create an actual and efficient barcode inventory system. Additionally, spreadsheets make it difficult to include non-alphanumeric data about items, including photos and attachments.

Suppose the reason you are hoping to manage and create barcodes within Excel is to save time and money. In that case, there are a variety of inventory management software solutions designed to make generating, syncing, and tracking barcodes easy without requiring organizations to spend a fortune on software or hardware. 

Sortly, for example, allows users to use existing manufacturers’ barcodes and QR codes or create their own directly within the software. These barcodes and QR codes are automatically synced with each item’s profile, which means creating barcodes and creating a barcode inventory system occur in one step.

Additionally, there is no need to invest in external hardware to either scan barcodes or to generate and print labels of those barcodes. Instead, existing smartphones and tablets act as in-app barcode scanners, and regular printers and label paper can be used to create custom barcode labels. If a business already owns external barcode scanners, those can also be synced to the software, but there is no need to invest in these items from the start. 


Free barcode inventory system for Excel

This free barcode inventory template for Excel is the perfect way to create an inventory list ready to generate barcodes. Simply add your inventory list to the template, customize it with all the key details you need, and then add your own “numbers” to convert into barcodes. Remember, you’ll need to download a barcode font to transform those numbers into a barcode.

Keep in mind, there’s an easier way to barcode your inventory than using spreadsheets. Sortly is an easy, mobile solution for barcoding and managing inventory. With Sortly, you can scan existing barcodes or QR codes directly from your smartphone or tablet, eliminating the need for data entry. Plus, you can generate your own barcode and QR labels for easy organization. Sortly streamlines inventory management, saving you time and effort compared to manual tracking in Excel. Learn more about Sortly’s barcoding capabilities.


Free Download: Barcode Inventory Template

Download our free barcode inventory template to create an inventory list ready to generate barcodes. Simply add your inventory list to the template, customize it with your business's unique details, and then add your own “numbers” to convert into barcodes.


About Sortly

Sortly is an inventory management solution that helps you track, manage, and organize your inventory from any device, in any location. We’re an easy-to-use inventory software that’s perfect for large or small businesses. Sortly builds inventory tracking seamlessly into your workday so you can save time and money, satisfy your customers, and help your business succeed.

With Sortly, you can track inventory, supplies, parts, tools, assets like equipment and machinery, and anything else that matters to your business. It comes equipped with smart features like barcoding & QR codinglow stock alertscustomizable foldersdata-rich reporting, and much more. Best of all, you can update inventory right from your smartphone, whether you’re  on the job, in the warehouse, or on the go.

Whether you’re just getting started with inventory management or you’re an expert looking for a more efficient solution, we can transform how your company manages inventory—so you can focus on building your business. That’s why over 15,000 businesses globally trust us as their inventory management solution.

Start your two-week free trial of Sortly today.