ISSN Magazine Barcodes


    Please click the [ Mark Complete ] button at the bottom of this page when you’ve achieved these goals: 

  • Explain the use of ISSNs, how they can be obtained, and how they are required before purchasing associated barcodes.
  • Understand that ISSNs are required for serialized literature and which kind of literature is not considered to be a serial.
  • Be able to explain to a potential customer that there are three different formats of ISSN barcodes, and which two formats cost more because they require multiple barcode images.


What are ISSNs?

These are the barcodes that you see on magazines.

Customers must source ISSN numbers from 
Then they can order barcode images for the ISSNs through our websites, pasting the number at checkout.


You need an ISSN number (and corresponding barcode) for anything that is considered a “serial”.
This includes magazines, newspapers, journals, yearbooks, directories and monographs.

The following are NOT serials, and don’t need an ISSN:
Instruction manuals; posters; magazine or newspaper special editions; serials not intended for public circulation; diaries; calendars; mail order catalogues; and fill-in crossword or puzzle books.

Is it worth selling ISSN images from your website?

Although creating them is a manual process, we typically get return orders where customers need a new image for each issue or edition of a magazine. Some customers order multiple ISSNs to cover all of their magazine issues for the entire year.

Can we automate ISSN creation?

No, we cannot currently automate; we use Barcode Studio to manually create ISSNs.

What if I don’t have Barcode Studio?

You can order from us in NZ.
Once we receive your order, we will manually create the ISSN barcode for you, and email it to you.
This will normally take 1-2 business days.

ISSN Layout options

IMPORTANT: the above image shows two ways to track serial publications (with 01, 02, 03. 04…) .
We can use the Edition Variant and the Issue Number.
We use these for  ISSN formats 2 and 3, explined below…

ISSN Barcode images come in 3 main formats:

1. The SAME number/image printed on all issues of the publication

The 8 digit ISSN number is converted to a 13 digit number (EAN-13) by adding a 977 to the beginning, taking away the check-digit, adding two numbers (00) to the end and recalculating the check-digit. The number is then created as an image using EAN-13 Symbology which can easily be read by all barcode scanners and is essentially the same as other products with EAN-13 barcodes on them that go into stores.
In this case the same number would be printed on each issue of the magazine.

2. A DIFFERENT number/image for each issue using the Edition Variant

In the above image this uses the Edition Variant.
Again the 8 digit ISSN number is converted to a 13 digit number, however this time the ’00’ added on the end is changed various times to create a different EAN-13 image each time.
In this case a separate barcode image would be created for each issue of the magazine, by incrementing the Edition Variant.

3. A 2-DIGIT NUMBER SUPPLEMENT for each issue using the Issue Number

This option is often called the 15 digit EAN 13+2 format.
In the above image this uses the Issue Number.
The final format involves converting the ISSN number in exactly the same way as option one, however in this case an additional 2-digit supplement code is added to the end creating a 15 digit (EAN-13+2) number.
The Issue Number supplement changes for each issue and can be done on a monthly (01-12) or weekly (01-52) basis (or any other way you wish).



  • Option 1 is the simplest and cheapest. It is often used by small or startup magazines.
  • Options 2 and 3 involve creating multiple images for the ISSN number and are more expensive.
  • In the UK the 13+2 format (option 3) is the most common.
  • Other countries tend more towards the 13 digit formats (options 1 and 2).
  • If a customer is unsure what format to purchase, advise them to first check the stores where they are hoping to stock magazines