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Linear barcodes are generally refered to as printed in either  picket fence mode or ladder mode. Unlike inkjets or laser jet printers, thermal transfer printers have a direct dot-to-paper relationship.  Each individual pin on the print head has to heat up and cool down to create the barcode on the label. In picket fence mode the lines of the barcode are parallel to the movement of the label through the printer, and in ladder mode the lines of the barcode are perpendicular to the movement of the label, which can present  a more challenging task to the printer.

How to create barcodes in Ladder Mode

Create two Code 39 barcodes, leave one at the 0º orientation and set the other orientation to 90º.

  1. Print the label and compare the barcodes.
  2. If they are both crisp and can be scanned, the printer is capable at the default settings of printing the default barcode with test data in ladder mode.
  3. If either of the barcodes is not crisp and easily scanned, make the following adjustments to the ladder mode barcode. Some settings will affect both barcodes.
    1. Depending on the amount of real estate available, expand the barcode by increasing the number of pixels (also refered to as X-Dim), to a number that fully occupies the available area.
    2. Under the label options (F5 for label setup) set the ips (inches per second, also referred to as print speed) to the lowest value available.
    3. If you are using direct thermal stock, try switching to thermal transfer stock with a ribbon.
    4. If available, switch to a printer with a higher resolution.
  4. Print your label, by manipulating the above mentioned variables you should be able to get a crisp printed barcode in a 90º orientation.
  5. If all above fails, and requirements permit, switch to symbology that allows for greater data compaction in the allowable real estate.
  6. If the chosen symbology after using all available adjustments continue to fail, then you should consider a different symbology or rotating the label if possible.

Please contact our Engineering Technical Services team for more information.

Article Number



 All LPS and LLM versions.


All supported installation environments.