Different Types of Barcodes
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Different Types of Barcodes

A Barcode Symbology defines the technical details of a particular type of barcode: the width of the bars, character set, method of encoding, checksum specifications, etc. Most users are more interested in the general capabilities of a particular symbology (how much and what kind of data can it hold, what are its common uses, etc) than in the excruciating technical details.

Want to compare barcodes side by side?  Check out our Symbology Comparison Chart!

Numeric-only barcodes

  • Codabar:  Older code often used in library systems, sometimes in blood banks
  • Code 11:  Used primarily for labeling telecommunications equipment
  • EAN-13:  European Article Numbering international retail product code
  • EAN-8:  Compressed version of EAN code for use on small products
  • Industrial 2 of 5:  Older code not in common use
  • Interleaved 2 of 5:  Compact numeric code, widely used in industry, air cargo
  • MSI:  Variation of the Plessey code commonly used in USA
  • Plessey:  Older code commonly used for retail shelf marking
  • PostNet:  Used by U.S. Postal Service for automated mail sorting
  • UPC-A:  Universal product code seen on almost all retail products in the USA and Canada
  • Standard 2 of 5:  Older code not in common use
  • UPC-E:  Compressed version of UPC code for use on small products

Alpha-numeric barcodes

  • Code 128:  Very capable code, excellent density, high reliability; in very wide use world-wide
  • Code 39:  General-purpose code in very wide use world-wide
  • Code 93:  Compact code similar to Code 39
  • LOGMARS:  Same as Code 39, this is the U.S. Government specification

2-Dimensional barcodes

  • PDF417:  Excellent for encoding large amounts of data
  • DataMatrix:  Can hold large amounts of data, especially suited for making very small codes
  • Maxicode:  Fixed length, used by United Parcel Service for automated package sorting
  • QR Code:  Used for material control and order confirmation
  • Data Code
  • Code 49
  • 16K

Industry Standards for Barcodes and Labels


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