Barcode Types

Introduction to commonly used barcode types and barcode sample pictures

Barcodes are a method of representing data in a visual, machine-readable form.

There are two main types of barcodes:    1D Barcode (linear) and 2D Barcode(matrix).




Interleaved 2of5

QR Code




Code 25

Data Matrix
























MSI Plessey










Intelligent Mail



Barcode Samples:       Online Barcode Type Detector        Online Barcode Size Tester

Code 128 Full ASCII-Character set with Code128 ABC autoselection
Code 128A Char Set A: Capital letters and special characters
Code 128B Char Set B: Letters in upper and lower case
Code 128C Char Set C: Optimized for numbers
EAN 128 Special form of the Code 128 also known as UCC/EAN 128
EAN 13 European-Article-Number with 13 digits
EAN 8 European-Article-Number with only 8 digits
EAN 5 Add on price code for ISBN
EAN 2 Add on found on newspapers
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISSN International Standard Serial Number
UPC A Universal Product Code with 12 digits
UPC E Universal Product Code with 6 digits
Code 39 Also known as Code 3 of 9. Digits, uppercase letters and _. *$/+%
Code 39 Extended Full ASCII-Character set. Also known as Code 3 of 9 Extended.
Codebar Numeric code. Often used on medical equipment.
Code 25 Numeric code.
Interleaved Code 25 Numeric code. Compact.
POSTNet Numeric code. Used by post offices.
Post 2/5 Numeric code. Flavor of Interleave 2of5. Also known as Identcode or Leitcode.
Code93 Full ASCII-Character set.
Plessey Numeric and chars A to F.
PDF 417 2-Dimensional full ASCII barcode.
Code11 Numbers and '-' .
PLANET Postal code
4State Postal code
ITF-14 The ITF-14 barcode is used to create the Shipping Container Symbol. This code is used to mark cartons and palettes
EAN-14 EAN-128 derived code used to mark trade goods.
DataMatrix 2D full ASCII barcode.
QR Code QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. A QR code uses four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji) to efficiently store data; extensions may also be used.
IATA Used inaviation industry.
USPS Intelligent Mail US Postil Servide  Intelligent Mail Barcode



1. What is the difference between 1D barcode and 2D barcode?

1D barcodes consist of lines and spaces of varying widths that create specific patterns.

Common examples include:

UPC: Used extensively in North America for retail items.

EAN: More common in Europe and other parts of the world.

Code 39: Widely used for many types of applications.

Code 128: Can encode all ASCII characters and is excellent for many applications.

2D barcodes can store more information than 1D barcodes by using patterns of squares, dots, hexagons, and other geometric shapes. Examples include:

QR Codes: Can encode a significant amount of data and are used in a wide range of applications.

Data Matrix: Often used for marking small items, as it can encode a lot of information in a small space.

PDF417: Used for documents and postage.

The choice between 1D and 2D barcodes depends on the amount of data you need to encode and the space available on the item to be marked.

With the new GS1 Sunrise 2027 initiative, there’s a shift towards 2D barcodes like QR codes and Data Matrix due to their increased data storage capacity and improved scanning capabilities.


2. Why are there so many barcode types?

The diversity of barcodes is to meet the needs of different industries and application scenarios. Each barcode type has its own unique features and benefits, such as:

EAN-13 code: a globally accepted product barcode that supports 13 digits and is suitable for retail.

UPC-A code: Product barcode mainly used in the United States and Canada, supporting 12 digits.

Code-128 code: can represent a total of 128 characters from ASCII 0 to ASCII 127, suitable for a variety of applications.

Code-39 code: supports numbers, uppercase letters and some special characters, used for logistics tracking, etc.

ITF-14 code: used in the storage, transportation and wholesale of goods, supporting 14 digits.

Different barcode types can encode different types of information as needed, such as numbers, letters, and even Chinese characters and images.

In addition, with the development of technology, the functions of barcode software continue to become more powerful, making the application of barcodes more extensive and flexible.

In short, the diversity of barcodes ensures that they can provide effective automatic identification and tracking solutions for various commercial and industrial processes worldwide.


3. Is it possible that one type of barcode, such as QR Code, will replace all other barcode types in the future?

In the long term, QR codes are likely to gradually replace one-dimensional barcodes. According to GS1's "Sunrise 2027" project, starting in 2027, two-dimensional barcodes similar to QR codes will replace the standard 12-digit one-dimensional barcodes. This change is designed to meet the changing needs for information transparency, product certification and global supply chain traceability.

However, this transformation won't happen immediately. Although 2D barcodes offer more information storage capacity and higher scanning efficiency, 1D barcodes still play a role in many applications, especially those where there is no need to store large amounts of information or where there is a limit on the size of the barcode. Additionally, the widespread deployment of existing 1D barcode systems and devices means that a full transition to 2D codes will take time and resources.

Therefore, while QR codes may gradually become mainstream, in the short term, 1D barcodes and QR codes may coexist, each exerting its advantages in different application areas.


4. Will RFID replace barcodes?

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology and barcodes each have their own advantages and application scenarios. RFID technology can provide contactless identification, batch reading, larger storage capacity, and greater durability and anti-interference capabilities.

These characteristics make RFID more advantageous than traditional barcode systems in certain areas, such as supply chain management, inventory tracking, and Internet of Things applications.

However, barcode technology still has certain advantages in terms of cost, simplicity and popularity. The widespread deployment and mature infrastructure of barcoding systems means they remain the first choice across many industries and applications.

So while RFID technology may be more advanced in some aspects, it won't completely replace barcodes. Instead, the two are likely to coexist, each bringing its strengths to bear in different application areas.

Overall, RFID and barcoding will continue to exist as complementary technologies, working together to support the needs of modern business and industry.



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