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Types of Barcodes

Linear barcodes

Symbology Continuous
Bar widths Uses
U.P.C. Continuous Many Worldwide retail, GS1-approved – International Standard ISO/IEC 15420
Codabar Discrete Two Old format used in libraries and blood banks and on airbills (out of date)
Code 25 – Non-interleaved 2 of 5 Continuous Two Industrial
Code 25 – Interleaved 2 of 5 Continuous Two Wholesale, libraries International standard ISO/IEC 16390
Code 39 Discrete Two Various – international standard ISO/IEC 16388
Code 93 Continuous Many Various
Code 128 Continuous Many Various – International Standard ISO/IEC 15417
Code 128A Continuous Many Various – only a CODE 128 character set, not an own symbology
Code 128B Continuous Many Various – only a CODE 128 character set, not an own symbology
Code 128C Continuous Many Various – only a CODE 128 character set, not an own symbology
Code 11 Discrete Two Telephones (out of date)
CPC Binary Discrete Two  
DUN 14 Continuous Many Various
EAN 2 Continuous Many Addon code (magazines), GS1-approved – not an own symbology – to be used only with an EAN/UPC according to ISO/IEC 15420
EAN 5 Continuous Many Addon code (books), GS1-approved – not an own symbology – to be used only with an EAN/UPC according to ISO/IEC 15420
EAN-8, EAN-13 Continuous Many Worldwide retail, GS1-approved – International Standard ISO/IEC 15420
Facing Identification Mark Continuous One USPS business reply mail
GS1-128 (formerly named UCC/EAN-128), incorrectly referenced as EAN 128 and UCC 128 Continuous Many various, GS1-approved -is just an application of the Code 128 (ISO/IEC 15417) using the ANS MH10.8.2 AI Datastructures. Its not an own symbology.
GS1 DataBar, formerly Reduced Space Symbology (RSS) Continuous Many Various, GS1-approved
HIBC (HIBCC Health Industry Bar Code) Discrete Two Healthcare[21] – is a datastructure to be used with Code 128, Code 39 or Data Matrix
ITF-14 Continuous Many Non-retail packaging levels, GS1-approved – is just an Interleaved 2/5 Code (ISO/IEC 16390) with a few additional specifications, according to the GS1 General Specifications
Latent image barcode Neither Tall/short Color print film
Pharmacode Neither Two Pharmaceutical packaging (no international standard available)
Plessey Continuous Two Catalogs, store shelves, inventory (no international standard available)
PLANET Continuous Tall/short United States Postal Service (no international standard available)
POSTNET Continuous Tall/short United States Postal Service (no international standard available)
Intelligent Mail barcode Continuous Tall/short United States Postal Service, replaces both POSTNET and PLANET symbols (formerly named OneCode)
MSI Continuous Two Used for warehouse shelves and inventory
PostBar Discrete Many Canadian Post office
RM4SCC / KIX Continuous Tall/short Royal Mail / Royal TPG Post
JAN Continuous Many Used in Japan, similar and compatible with EAN-13 (ISO/IEC 15420)
Telepen Continuous Two Libraries (UK)

Matrix (2D) barcodes

A matrix code, also termed a 2D barcode or simply a 2D code, is a two-dimensional way to represent information. It is similar to a linear (1-dimensional) barcode, but can represent more data per unit area.

Symbology Notes
3-DI Developed by Lynn Ltd.
ArrayTag From ArrayTech Systems.
Aztec Code Designed by Andrew Longacre at Welch Allyn (now Honeywell Scanning and Mobility). Public domain. — International Standard ISO/IEC 24778
Small Aztec Code Space-saving version of Aztec code.
Chromatic Alphabet[22] an artistic proposal by C. C. Elian; divides the visible spectrum into 26 different wavelengths – hues.
Codablock Stacked 1D barcodes.
Code 1 Public domain. Code 1 is currently used in the health care industry for medicine labels and the recycling industry to encode container content for sorting.[23]
Code 16K Based on 1D Code 128.
Code 49 Stacked 1D barcodes from Intermec Corp.
ColorCode ColorZip[24] developed colour barcodes that can be read by camera phones from TV screens; mainly used in Korea.[25]
Compact Matrix Code From Syscan Group, Inc.
CP Code From CP Tron, Inc.
CyberCode From Sony.
d-touch readable when printed on deformable gloves and stretched and distorted[26]
DataGlyphs From Palo Alto Research Center (also termed Xerox PARC).[27]
Data Matrix From Microscan Systems, formerly RVSI Acuity CiMatrix/Siemens. Public domain. Increasingly used throughout the United States. Single segment Data Matrix is also termed Semacode – Standard: ISO/IEC 16022.
Datastrip Code From Datastrip, Inc.
Dot Code A Designed for the unique identification of items.
EZcode Designed for decoding by cameraphones.[28]
Grid Matrix Code From Syscan Group, Inc.
High Capacity Color Barcode Developed by Microsoft; licensed by ISAN-IA.
HueCode From Robot Design Associates. Uses greyscale or colour.[29]
INTACTA.CODE From INTACTA Technologies, Inc.
InterCode From Iconlab, Inc. The standard 2D barcode in South Korea. All 3 South Korean mobile carriers put the scanner program of this code into their handsets to access mobile internet, as a default embedded program.
JAGTAG From JAGTAG, Inc. Optimized for use with mobile device cameras.
MaxiCode Used by United Parcel Service. Now Public Domain
mCode Developed by Nextcode Corporation specifically for camera phone scanning applications. Designed to enable advanced cell mobile applications with standard camera phones.
MiniCode From Omniplanar, Inc.
MicroPDF417 Facilitates codes too small to be used in PDF417.
MMCC Designed to disseminate high capacity mobile phone content via existing colour print and electronic media, without the need for network connectivity
Nintendo e-Reader#Dot code Developed by Olympus Corporation to store songs, images, and mini-games for Game Boy Advance on Pokémon trading cards.
Optar Developed by Twibright Labs and published as free software. Aims at maximum data storage density, for storing data on paper. 200 kB per A4 page with laser printer.
PaperDisk High density code, used both for data heavy applications (10K – 1 MB) and camera phones (50+ bits). Developed and patented by Cobblestone Software.[30]
PDF417 Originated by Symbol Technologies. Public Domain.
PDMark Developed by Ardaco.
QR Code Initially developed, patented and owned by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave for car parts management; now public domain. Can encode Japanese Kanji and Kana characters, music, images, URLs, emails. De facto standard for Japanese cell phones. Also used with BlackBerry Messenger to pickup contacts rather than using a PIN code. These codes are also used frequently for Android phones. — International Standard : ISO/IEC 18004
QuickMark Code From SimpleAct Inc.[31]
Secure Seal Used in signature blocks of checks from the United States Treasury.
SmartCode From InfoImaging Technologies.
Snowflake Code From Marconi Data Systems, Inc.
ShotCode Circular barcodes for camera phones by OP3. Originally from High Energy Magic Ltd in name Spotcode. Before that probably termed TRIPCode.
SPARQCode QR Code encoding standard from MSKYNET, Inc.
SuperCode Public domain.
Trillcode From Lark Computers. Designed to work with mobile device’s camera or webcam PC. Can encode a variety of “actions”.
UltraCode Black-and-white & colour versions. Public domain. Invented by Jeffrey Kaufman and Clive Hohberger.
UnisCode also called “Beijing U Code”; a colour 2D barcode developed by Chinese company UNIS
VeriCode, VSCode From Veritec, Inc.
WaterCode High-density 2D Barcode(440 Bytes/cm2) From MarkAny Inc.

Example images

  • First, Second and Third Generation Barcodes
  • GTIN-12 number encoded in UPC-A barcode symbol. First and last digit are always placed outside the symbol to indicate Quiet Zones that are necessary for barcode scanners to work properly

  • EAN-13 (GTIN-13) number encoded in EAN-13 barcode symbol. First digit is always placed outside the symbol, additionally right quiet zone indicator (>) is used to indicate Quiet Zones that are necessary for barcode scanners to work properly

  • “Wikipedia” encoded in Code 93

  • ‘Wikipedia” encoded in Code 128

  • An example of a stacked barcode. Specifically a “Codablock” barcode.

  • PDF417 sample

  • Lorem ipsum boilerplate text as four segment Data Matrix 2D

  • “This is an example Aztec symbol for Wikipedia” encoded in Aztec Code

  • Text ‘EZcode

  • High Capacity Color Barcode of the URL for Wikipedia’s article on High Capacity Color Barcode

  • “Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia” in several languages encoded in DataGlyphs

  • Two different 2D barcodes used in film: Dolby Digital between the sprocket holes with the “Double-D” logo in the middle, and Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in the blue area to the left of the sprocket holes

  • The QR Code for the Wikipedia URL. “Quick Response”, the most popular 2D barcode in Japan, is promoted by Google. It is open in that the specification is disclosed and the patent is not exercised.[32]

  • MaxiCode example. This encodes the string “Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia”

  • ShotCode sample

  • detail of Twibright Optar scan from laser printed paper, carrying 32 kbit/s Ogg Vorbis digital music (48 seconds per A4 page)

Code 128

Code 128 Code 128 is one of the most recently adopted bar code symbologies and certainly one of the most complex. It takes its name from the number of different characters it may encode – the full 128 ASCII character set (plus other function and special characters). This includes all the number and letter characters …

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Code 39

Code 39 (or Code 3 of 9) differs from most of the other popular bar code symbologies in that it is alphanumeric. Although it originally could encode only 39 different characters, it can now encode 43; 01234567890ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.,%$-/ and the space character. There is also a start and stop character, commonly represented as an asterisk (*). …

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Data Matrix 2D Barcode

A Data Matrix code is a two-dimensional matrix barcode consisting of black and white “cells” or modules arranged in either a square or rectangular pattern. The information to be encoded can be text or raw data. Usual data size is from a few bytes up to 1556 bytes. The length of the encoded data depends …

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EAN(European Article Number)

The barcode symbology most commonly seen in Europe (and most of the rest of the world) is EAN. It is a numeric only bar code system used for identification of retail products. Unique EAN numbers are allocated to each separate retail product, not just by product brand but by variation (weight, colour, flavour, etc..). Also …

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ISBN(International Standard Book Number)

From January 2007, ISBN numbers became 13 digits long, rather than the previous 10 digits. The change was necessary so that the ISBN system have sufficient numbers available for future growth. Previously, the ISBN number was prefixed with the digits “978” when applying the number to an EAN barcode. There will now be an added …

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ISSN(International Standard Serial Number)

ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is used for serial publications, i.e. magazine and periodicals. The guidelines for the EAN implementation of the ISSN are published by the Periodicals Barcoding Association (P.B.A.) P.B.A. Imperial House 15-19 Kingsway London WC2 6UN The ISSN/EAN symbol was originally intended for the U.K but is being taken up by other …

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ITF (Interleaved 2 of 5)

The Interleaved 2 of 5 (or ITF) code was developed from an earlier symbology called simply Code 2 of 5. Code 2 of 5 is numeric and has bars which can be wide or narrow. Spaces carried no information, and therefore their width was not critical. The Interleaved 2 of 5 symbology was suggested as …

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Pharmacode, also known as Pharmaceutical Binary Code, is a barcode standard, used in the pharmaceutical industry as a packing control system. It is designed to be readable despite printing errors. It can be printed in multiple colors as a check to ensure that the remainder of the packaging (which the pharmaceutical company must print to …

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QR Code

A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to its fast readability and comparatively large storage capacity. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern …

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UPC(Universal Product Code)

The Universal Product Code symbology is used throughout the U.S. and Canadian grocery industry and has expanded into general retail as well. In its standard version (UPC-A), the bar code consists of a five digit manufacturer number and a five digit product number. In addition there is a 1 digit number system identifier at the …

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