barcodes for asset inventory in Excel

Copper Contributor

I'm building an inventory for my collection of antique tools in excel.  I'm hoping to identify each of my 20k items with some kind of unique bar code tied to a six digit number.  Can anyone provide watchouts for phone or computer based reader/scanners of spreadsheet issues before I start? 

1 Reply


Creating an inventory system with barcodes in Excel for your collection of antique tools is a great idea. Here are some important considerations and tips to ensure a smooth process:

Watchouts for Phone or Computer-Based Barcode Reader/Scanners

  1. Compatibility:
    • Ensure that the barcode scanner you choose is compatible with Excel. Most barcode scanners emulate keyboard input, so they should work seamlessly with Excel by default.
    • Verify that the scanner can read the type of barcode you plan to use (e.g., Code 128, QR Code).
  2. Barcode Format:
    • Choose a barcode format that can easily accommodate a six-digit number. Commonly used formats like Code 128 or Code 39 are suitable for numeric codes.
  3. Barcode Font and Generation:
    • Use a barcode font or a barcode generation tool to create barcodes in Excel. Fonts like Code 128 or 3 of 9 Barcode are commonly used.
    • Ensure the barcode font is installed on your computer so that it displays correctly in Excel.
  4. Data Entry:
    • Plan your spreadsheet layout. Each item should have a unique six-digit code and corresponding barcode in separate columns.
    • Double-check for data entry errors. Incorrect barcode data can lead to identification issues.

Setting Up Barcodes in Excel

  1. Generating Barcodes:
    • Using Barcode Fonts: You can download and install a barcode font. Then, format your six-digit numbers in Excel using this font.
      • Example: 123456 formatted with a Code 128 font will generate a scannable barcode.
    • Using Excel Add-Ins or Online Tools: There are various Excel add-ins and online tools available that can generate barcodes. You can input your six-digit number and get the barcode in image format.
  2. Excel Layout:
    • Create a table with columns for Item Number, Description, Barcode, and any other relevant information.
    • Example:

| Item Number | Description | Barcode |


| 000001 | Antique Hammer | *000001* |

| 000002 | Vintage Saw | *000002* |

      • The asterisks (*) around the numbers are required for some barcode formats like Code 39.

Using Barcode Scanners with Excel

  1. Testing:
    • Before fully implementing your system, test the barcode scanner with a small batch of items to ensure it works as expected.
    • Scan the barcode into a blank Excel cell to verify that it reads the correct six-digit number.
  2. Data Integrity:
    • Regularly back up your Excel file to prevent data loss.
    • Consider protecting the spreadsheet to prevent accidental edits, especially in the barcode column.
  3. Training:
    • Train yourself and any other users on how to use the barcode scanner effectively with Excel.
    • Make sure everyone understands the importance of scanning correctly to maintain data integrity.

Additional Tips

  1. Unique IDs:
    • Ensure each barcode is unique. Even slight differences in the code can lead to misidentification.
  2. Labeling:
    • Use durable labels for barcodes on your antique tools. Depending on the environment, you may need water-resistant or heat-resistant labels.
  3. Software Integration:
    • If your inventory grows or you need more advanced features, consider integrating with inventory management software that can handle barcodes more efficiently than Excel.

By carefully planning and testing your barcode system, you can effectively manage and track your collection of antique tools in Excel. The text and the steps were created with the help of AI.


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