printing new barcodes

So. I often start looking at an element of my job by saying: this is how it worked when I used Athena; how do I copy that procedure into Koha? I’m wondering now if that’s really a useful way of doing it though. Mostly cause I got really stuck last Friday trying to print out labels exactly the way they used to be, and I just don’t think that’s working. I got there, instead, by looking at the options Koha gave me, and picking the one I liked best.

But man, the label creator took me a while to get used to!


In order to print the bibliographic data on one line, choose “List Fields” and surround your items with quotes – selecting the order of fields will cause each field to be on a separate line, which just runs too big. For some reason it works best when using the marc fields rather than the Koha fields, like this: “082a 082b 245a” for call number and title. If you list Koha fields without quotes, it puts them each on a separate line; but if you include quotes, it tries to find a field called <“itemtitle> or <callnumber”>. Also – when you go back in, to edit it, it wants to choose order of text fields to print again, rather than list fields selected, which will confuse it when you go to save. So just make sure that list fields is selected when you go to save. The fact that choosing alignment of text is here, but the margins are in another screen, is a little awkward, too, but I don’t understand the margins anyway!

Templates (and profiles):

The top text margin pushes the text around, but not the barcode. For some reason the left text margin doesn’t act the same way – making an extremely wide left text margin pushes the title off the end of the barcode, but leaves the call number there! Why would anyone want a left margin option that didn’t actually change the left margin?

I’m also having trouble understanding how the label width and the gap between columns relate to each other; changing one doesn’t affect the other in the ways I might expect. Eventually I just threw numbers at the options and printed tests, and then compared them and printed more tests, and finally was happy with how it looked! I printed out a test batch of 9 labels, and that was fine, but when I printed out a whole page thereof I noticed that the gap between the top of the label and the beginning of the printing was getting epic by the end of the page. So, a profile with -1mm vertical creep, too.

Now I seem to have a barcode label that looks nice, with the call number and the title printed above, and the digits that make up the barcode printed below, and everything fits on the labels, and the scanner can read them, so I’m okay with not quite getting how it does it!

These are the options I’m using for printing barcode labels:


  • Barcode Encoding: Code39
  • Type: Biblio/Barcode
  • List Fields: “082a 082b 245a”
  • (default options)
  • Font size:7

Template: I’m using Officeworks 33 per sheet 64×24.3mm labels; they’re a little big for the job but I’ve still got sheets and sheets of them.

  • Top Page Margin: 8mm
  • Left Page Margin: 7mm
  • Top Text Margin: 8mm
  • Left Text Margin: 5mm
  • Number of Columns: 3
  • Number of Rows: 11
  • Gap between Columns: 4mm
  • Gap between Rows: 2mm

Not sure why those numbers work, but they do, so.


4 thoughts on “printing new barcodes

  1. Emily,

    I spent hours trying to figure out why the numbers in Koha didn’t reflect the actual output. Turns out I accidentally had an option checked whenever I went to print the PDFs: “page scaling”. Make sure it’s set to “none” or it’ll automatically zoom the page in a semi-random manner, making your carefully selected margins pointless except through trial and error.

    I’m using the L7157 Avery Labels, also 33 per sheet 64 x 24.3mm. I also created a template with the following values:

    Template description: 3 colums 11 rows

    Page height: 29.7 cm
    Page width: 21 cm
    Label width: 6.4 cm
    Label height: 2.43 cm

    Top page margin: 1.4 cm
    Left page margin: 0.65 cm
    Top text margin: 0.4 cm
    Left text margin: 0.2 cm
    Number of columns: 3
    Number of rows: 11
    Gap between columns: 0.25 cm
    Gap between rows: 0 cm

    Profile: No profile

    There is a slight drift, but overall the labels look great, and they measure out with a ruler to almost exactly what I’ve specified in the profile (once you disable page scaling).

    If you had the same problem, maybe that will help. Cheers.

  2. If you want the barcode text larger, that’s adjusted through the Layout, under “Font Size” at the bottom. I’ve also found selected a bold font can make them easier to read. If you enlarge the font, you may have to limit what information is included, as if there are too many lines it will push down into the barcode.

    Another odd quirk: if your barcode values are very small numbers, such as “01” or “2”, the barcode will be GIGANTIC. If you run into that, go to Administration->Global system preferences->Cataloging->autoBarcode (or you can just do a search for “autoBarcode”). Select one of the options that automatically generates the barcode with the branch number or year attached, and the extra added digits will keep the barcodes a reasonable size no matter what.

    1. My barcodes have the school number on first, so they’re plenty long – but changing the font size changes the text with the barcode, the school name and the title/author/call number if they’re on it. It doesn’t change the size of the human-readable digits of the barcode. Hey, if the barcode values being small messes with the size of the barcode, do you reckon the barcode values being giant might also mess with them? Our values are like 387662000370987 – is that crazy long in koha-land?

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