Types of Barcodes: Tips to Choose the Right Barcode

Types of Barcodes
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A barcode is a tiny picture of lines (bars) and spaces fastened to retail shop merchandise, identity cards, and postal mail to identify a certain product number, person, or place. The code represents numerals and other symbols with a series of vertical bars and spaces. 

Details About Barcodes

Now that we know the basics of barcodes, let us dive into details. There are different types of barcodes as well.


Typically, a bar code sign is composed of five components: 

  • a quiet zone 
  • a start character 
  • data characters, including optional check character
  • a stop character 
  • another quiet zone

Scanning Barcodes

There are plenty of barcode types. The code is scanned using a barcode reader. The reader employs a laser beam sensitive to the reflections from the thickness and variation of the line and space. The reader converts the reflected light to digital data used immediately or stored on a computer. While barcodes and readers are most often seen in supermarkets and retail establishments, they have many other applications.

They are also used to:

  • Take inventory in retail outlets
  • Monitor production and shipping movements 
  • Check out books from a library 
  • Sign in on a job 
  • Identify hospital patients
  • Tabulate direct mail marketing return data


Various bar code standards are symbologies that cater to certain applications, industries, or geographies. Since 1973, the Uniform Product Code (UPC), governed by the Uniform Code Council (GS1 US), an industry association, has supplied a uniform bar code accepted by most retail establishments.

The European Article Numbering system (EAN), created by Joe Woodland, the original bar code system developer, incorporates an additional pair of digits and is gaining popularity.

Types of Barcode

One of the most commonly used barcode formats is UPC (Universal Product Code). This barcode is used for labeling retail products. It is found on almost every sale item in the market and all grocery stores in the US. It consists of a 12-digit numeric-only number. 

Every product is assigned its unique number by GS1, making up the first six digits of the barcode. The product’s manufacturer assigns the next five digits. Each product has a unique UPC that its manufacturers use for identification.

Here are some commonly used barcodes:

Code 39

Code 39 supports both numbers and characters. Its name derives from the fact that it was limited to encoding around 39 characters. That number has now been raised to 43. It is most often utilized in the automobile sector and by the Department of Defense of the United States.

Code 128

This kind of barcode was created quite recently. It is capable of encoding all of the ASCII 128-character set’s characters. It can encode numbers, characters, and pronunciation marks, which enables a wide variety of characters. That is why it is such a versatile barcode capable of storing almost any kind of data. It is mostly utilized in logistics, transportation, and order fulfillment.


This barcode is a data carrier that was intended to make the movement of information between businesses easier. It includes a list of barcode identifiers that enables it to encode and describe the meaning of the data.


Codabar is a very simple way to print symbology. It is utilized in picture laboratories, blood banks in the United States, and FedEx airbills. It encodes up to 16 characters and can be generated manually using consecutive integers. Additionally, it is a self-checking barcode. Rather than scanning faulty data, it will flag it as a false positive, decreasing scanning mistakes.

EAN-13 and EAN-8

Typically, these barcodes are used outside the United States. They are often seen on consumer goods like food, shoes, and clothing and are scanned at the point of sale. EAN-13 has 13 digits, whereas EAN-8 has 8 digits. The latter is particularly advantageous for scanning goods with limited label space, such as sweets.


This barcode is a hybrid of point-of-sale and logistic barcodes. It utilizes a 14-digit number and is capable of dealing with very tight printing tolerances. This is particularly advantageous when barcodes must be printed on cardboard. This barcode is often used for non-POS (point of sale) transactions.

The above are the commonly used barcode formatting. Now that we know about them let us know how to choose the right one.

How to Choose the Right Barcode
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How to Choose the Right Barcode

Choosing a barcode is not as hard as it might seem. Here are some factors you might want to consider when choosing the right barcode.


When there is just a limited amount of space available for the barcode, that cuts down your available list. Many industry standards, such as those governing UPC barcodes, limit the size of the barcode. However, making the barcode as large as possible within the available area is the most practical technique in most circumstances.

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It should come as no surprise that the quality of the barcode printing has a huge impact on: 

  • if it can be scanned, and 
  • from how far away it can be scanned. 

Suppose the barcode image was created on a printer with a broken printhead or wrinkled label during the application. In that case, the barcode will almost certainly not scan. Because imaging technology decodes the complete barcode, while lasers only scan over a single picture line, it is more forgiving of incorrect barcodes.

Printable Materials

Print contrast is critical for properly scanning barcodes. How much contrast exists between the barcode’s bars or markers and the backdrop on which it is printed? Generally, barcodes are printed on white paper or synthetic material. Suppose the backdrop becomes darker as a result of aging, abrasion, or surface pollution. In that case, the ability to scan the barcodes is compromised. 


What Is the Best Barcode to Use?

The most popular and easily readable barcode is Code 128. Because of numerous distinct message check routines, it also has the highest message integrity. The most prevalent barcode for retail product labeling is the UPC (Universal Product Code).

However, there are various distinct sorts of barcode standards designed for a specific purpose. These are referred to as symbologies. Each barcode type is defined by a standard that specifies the printed symbol and how it is read and decoded by a device such as a barcode scanner.

How Are Barcodes Generated?

Software/programs are used to produce barcodes. Stores choose what information (color, number, and type) they want to gather through the barcode and the format they wish to use. The program will produce a machine-readable barcode automatically.

Suppose you want to produce barcodes with your symbology and product numbers. In that case, you can do it using software, a scanner, and a label printer on your computer.


Once you have chosen one from different types of barcodes to use, you will need to include it in your packaging or bar code labels. The most versatile method of printing bar codes is to utilize a barcode font that is compatible with practically any application.

A Complete Guide on How Barcode Work

How Barcode Work
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Barcodes are one of the most widely used ways of identifying stored objects worldwide. Everywhere we go, from clothing purchases to supermarket shopping and even gadgets, we see barcodes. They have emerged as game changers for firms dealing with significant amounts of money by almost removing the margin for error. 

Billions of dollars have probably been saved due to adopting these barcodes, and if you are wondering how barcodes work or what they can do for you, you have come to the correct spot. We will explore barcodes and everything associated with them in-depth in this post.

History Of Barcodes

Bernard Silver invented the barcode. As a graduate student, he overheard a local food chain’s president request research workers at Drexel Institute of Technology to develop automated ways for interpreting product information. As they began their investigation, he discussed this plea with his friend, Normal Woodland.

They created the prototype, inspired by Morse Code, for which they filed a patent in 1949, which was eventually approved in 1952. However, it did not attain commercial success until the 1970s, when supermarkets gradually adopted them. Their idea did not immediately result in cost savings, which deterred firms from the start.

Though further research established that it was highly profitable, it assisted supermarkets in increasing revenue by 10-12 percent and saving 1-2 percent on operational expenditures. In the 1980s, they were accepted by the US Defense Department as they gained popularity.

They have now seized control of everything from grocery shelves to warehouses. Even today, e-commerce behemoths depend on barcodes to maintain their inventories.

How Does Barcode Work?

So, you might be thinking about how barcodes work? Barcodes function by combining a symbology (the barcode) and a scanner that can read the symbols and transform them into meaningful information, typically the item’s origin, price, kind, and location. The scanner decodes the barcode and automatically inputs the data into a system, most often a database. This tool provides a plethora of advantages for organizations, which is how barcodes work.

Product Verification

Barcodes laid the groundwork for today’s worldwide networked distribution networks. It enables large firms to verify that their items are correctly stocked and priced globally. Also, it has evolved into a critical tool for assisting small and medium-sized firms, hospitals, and government entities in tracking assets and increasing efficiency. Businesses use barcodes in a variety of ways, including the following:

Inventory Management

A fundamental inventory tracking system is composed of software and a barcode scanner or mobile computer. Inventory goods will all have barcode labels, which means that when you remove an item from stock, you can scan the barcode in your inventory monitoring software to lower the available count rather than typing in an SKU.

Maintaining Inventories

Any firm, regardless of its size, has IT assets and fixed assets. Each asset is labeled with a barcode that can be scanned to check it in or out using your asset tracking software. It is an excellent technique to increase responsibility and simplify audits.

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Return Mails

Include a barcode on the return-mail registration postcard that corresponds to the serial number of the product. Then, you can quickly determine which serial numbers have been registered and which you have not.


If your company is organizing an event, include barcodes into RSVP cards to keep track of who has answered without attempting to decipher anyone’s handwriting.


To return it with payment, include a barcode that reflects the customer number or the individual invoice number. You can quickly retrieve the client account or invoice number for the customer. This avoids issues such as payments being applied to the wrong customer account or invoice.

Now that you know about how a barcode works, let us learn about how a barcode scanner works.

How Do Barcode Scanners Work
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How Do Barcode Scanners Work?

What method is used to read a barcode? A barcode scanner. All barcode scanners use a light source and sensors to detect and quantify the amount of light reflected by the white spaces inside the distinctive parallel bar pattern. A photodiode detects the reflected light and generates an electrical signal that matches the barcode pattern.

The electrical signal is converted via circuits to the original numbers for which the barcode was formed.

The technology converts the numbers to intelligible text that interacts with the user’s database, giving critical information quickly. However, certain kinds of barcode readers are better suited to particular applications. In short, a barcode scanner decrypts barcode information.

Types Of Barcodes

Today, barcodes come in a variety of forms. Each of them is tailored to the unique requirements of companies and their stakeholders. However, as a result of globalization and consumerism, they became more standardized. 

They were required to service a diverse range of businesses, distributors, and retail agents. On the other hand, standardization aided in cost reduction by allowing businesses to process various manufacturers using the same equipment.

UPC Code, Code 39, EAN Code, ITF, Code 128, Code 93, GS1 Databar, Codabar, MSI Plessey, QR Code, Datamatrix Code, PDF417, Aztec are some of the most frequently used barcodes globally.

What are QR codes?

A QR code (short for Quick Response code) is a matrix barcode, also called a two-dimensional barcode. It is a visual, machine-readable representation of data capable of holding a large amount of data, often for a locator, identifier, or tracker that points to a certain website or application.

These codes are visually represented by black squares placed in a square grid on a white backdrop. The QR code picture has three unique squares at its corners and a smaller square in the fourth corner.

How do QR codes work? QR codes are readily readable by any digital device equipped with a scanning capability, such as a smartphone. When a picture is scanned, the essential data is collected from patterns found in both its horizontal and vertical components. 

What information does a barcode hold? These codes can include URLs, discounts, event details, and other data that people may access immediately or refer to later.


Barcoding is no longer a high-tech tool reserved for high-tech firms; it has evolved into a user-friendly tool that can benefit every business. Scanner prices and associated software requirements have decreased so that practically anybody can justify adopting a barcode system.