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Barcodes have become an integral part of modern-day business operations, serving as a critical tool in tracking and managing inventory, sales, and logistics. With the rise of e-commerce and global supply chains, the demand for efficient and accurate barcode technology has never been greater.

Barcode Types

1D vs 2D barcodes

1D Barcodes 2D Barcodes
A one-dimensional barcode is read from side to side and contains alpha,numeric or alphanumeric data.
1-D barcodes are usually scanned to look up information that is stored in a database. The data in the barcode is the identifier allowing for ease of lookup (query).
A two-dimensional barcode is read from side-to-side and from top-to-bottom and contains data.
There are a variety of 2-D Barcodes with the most popular being the QR Code (Quick Response). The QR Code allows for the embedding of raw data, URLs, and Mobile Tagging (Send an SMS, Twitter tweets, Facebook likes, etc.)

Barcode Symbologies

GTIN – Global Trade Identification Number

GTIN, or Global Trade Item Number, barcodes are a type of barcode used to uniquely identify products and track their movement throughout the supply chain. They are used by retailers, manufacturers, and distributors around the world and are a critical component of modern-day commerce.

The most common form of GTIN barcode is the UPC (Universal Product Code), which is widely used in the United States and Canada. UPC barcodes consist of 12 digits and are used to identify products at the point of sale. EAN (European Article Number) barcodes, on the other hand, are used in Europe and other parts of the world and consist of 13 digits.

In addition to UPC and EAN barcodes, there are several other types of GTIN barcodes, including ITF-14 (used for packaging and shipping), GS1-128 (used for advanced data capture), and GS1 DataBar (used for small items like produce and pharmaceuticals). By utilizing the appropriate GTIN barcode for each product and stage in the supply chain, businesses can improve their operational efficiency and provide better service to their customers.


GTIN-12 (UPC, UPC-12, UPC-A, Universal Product Code)

UPC-A Barcodes are used for marking products sold in stores throughout the USA and Canada. The barcode is comprised of three groupings of numbers, the manufacturer ID (the company who owns the barcode prefix) which is 6, 7, 8 or 9 digits in length, the balance of numbers totaling 11 digits and the final 12th number (Check Digit or Checksum). The check digit is based on a mod 10 formula.



The eight-digit UPC code is a compressed version of the UPC-A code and is meant for small articles where there is not a lot of space on the package. Not every GTIN-12 can be converted to a GTIN-8.


GTIN-13 (EAN, EAN-13, European Article Number, International Article Number)

An EAN-13 barcode (originally European Article Number, but now renamed International Article Number) is a 13 digit (12 data and 1 check-digit) barcoding standard which is a superset of the original 12-digit Universal Product Code (UPC) system developed in the United States. The EAN-13 barcode is defined by the standards organization GS1. Aside from the additional digit, the big difference is that an ean has a visible country code.


EAN 8 Barcode

Similar to the GTIN-8, this is the variant used outside of the US and Canada.


GTIN 14 (ITF 14)

The ITF14 is a 14 digit barcode used to mark the master shipping containers of products with a UPC identifier. It is based on the I2of5 barcode or ITF. ITF14 barcodes usually contain a top and bottom bar (sometimes rectangle) called the Bearers bar. These bars make sure that the barcode is read completely. The first number is typically an arbitrary number between 0 and 7, the next number is a zero, the following 11 numbers are the first 11 numbers on a UPC barcode and the last number is a check digit.


SSCC18 Barcode also known as UCC 128

This Symbology is also known as UPC-128 Shipping Container Code, Code 128 UPC Shipping Container Code, Serial Shipping Container Code, UCC-128, EAN-18, NVE (Nummer der Versandeinheit)
This is a special version of UCC/EAN-128, with Application Identifier (AI) = 00. It is used to identify shipping containers by a serial number.
SSCC18 Barcodes can be configured 3 different ways, no bearer bars, bearer bars top and bottom or bearer bars on all 4 sides.


UPC A with 2 Digit Extension

Often used for Magazines – the second barcode indicates month or edition.


UPC-A Barcode with 5 Digit Extension

Often used for Greeting Cards where the publisher takes responsibility for inventory management and stocking of product.


EAN+ 2 Digit Barcode

This is a variant of the EAN barcode. This can be used for magazines where the last two numbers represent the volume or month of issue.

EAN 13 + 5 Digit Barcode

This is a variant of the EAN barcode. Often used for Greeting Cards and other items when the manufacturer or distributor is responsible for inventory tracking.



The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique numeric commercial book identifier based upon the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering (SBN) code created by Gordon Foster, Emeritus Professor of Statistics at Trinity College, Dublin, for the booksellers and stationers W.H. Smith and others in 1966. An ISBN barcode uses an EAN symbology.


ISBN with 5 digit Add On

Most ISBN graphics also include a 5 digit add on. The first barcode is the ISBN barcode (using an EAN symbology) and the second barcode to the right indicates the price of the book. The first number, 5, represents a dollar sign ($). The next four numbers are the price of the book. In this example 51295 means that the book sells for $12.95. Since there are only 4 numbers after the 5, books that sell for more than $99.99 will be represented by 5999.


ISMN Barcode

The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is a unique number for the identification of all notated music publications from all over the world, whether available for sale, hire or gratis–whether a part, a score, or an element in a multi-media kit.
The ISMN is designed to rationalize the processing and handling of notated music and the respective bibliographical data for publishing houses, the music trade and libraries.
As of 1 January 2008 the ISMN consists of 13 digits starting with 979-0.


ISSN Barcode

Used mainly throughout Europe, the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) identifies periodical publications as such, including electronic serials.
The ISSN is a numeric code which is used as an identifier: it has no signification in itself and does not contain in itself any information referring to the origin or contents of the publication.



Originally developed by Pitney Bowes, the Codabar Barcode is used primarily by US Blood Banks, Photo Labs and Overnight Delivery Services. Codabar can encode the numbers 0 through 9, the start/stop characters A, B, C, D, E, *, N or T. and the six symbols (-:.$/+).


CODE 11 Barcode

Code 11 is a barcode symbology developed by Intermec in 1977. It is used primarily in telecommunications. The symbol can encode any length string consisting of the digits 0-9 and the dash character (-). One or more modulo-11 check digit(s) can be included.


CODE 128 Barcode

Code 128 is a very high-density barcode symbology. (A special version of it called GS1-128 is used extensively world-wide in shipping and packaging industries.) It is used for alphanumeric or numeric-only barcodes. It can encode all 128 characters of ASCII and, by use of an extension character (FNC4), the Latin-1 characters defined in ISO/IEC 8859-1.
Code 128 supports all ASCII 128 characters.
Subset A supports numbers, upper-case letters, and control characters, such as tab and new-line.
Subset B supports numbers, upper- and lower-case letters.
Subset C supports numbers only.


CODE 2 OF 5 – Interleaved

Also known as Interleaved 2 of 5, ITF or when used in association with a UPC or EAN barcode, a SCC (Shopping container code or a GTIN-14)

Interleaved 2 of 5 (or ITF) is a continuous two-width barcode symbology encoding digits. It is used commercially on 135 film and on cartons of some products, while the products inside are labeled with UPC or EAN. (See GTIN-14 above)


CODE 39 Barcode

Code 39 (also known as Alpha39, Code 3 of 9, Code 3/9, Type 39, USS Code 39, or USD-3) is a variable length, discrete barcode symbology.
The Code 39 specification defines 43 characters, consisting of uppercase letters (A through Z), numeric digits (0 through 9) and a number of special characters (-, ., $, /, +, %, and space). An additional character (denoted ‘*’) is used for both start and stop delimiters.
One advantage of Code 39 is that since there is no need to generate a check digit, it can easily be integrated into existing printing system by adding a barcode font to the system or printer and then printing the raw data in that font.


Code 93 Barcode

Code 93 is a barcode symbology designed in 1982 by Intermec to provide a higher density and data security enhancement to Code 39. It is an alphanumeric, variable length symbology. Code 93 is used primarily by Canada Post to encode supplementary delivery information. Every symbol includes two check characters.
Code 93 is designed to encode 26 upper case letters, 10 digits and 7 special characters:
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
-, ., $, /, +, %, SPACE.
Each Code 93 character is divided into nine modules and always has three bars and three spaces, thus the name. Each bar and space is from 1 to 4 modules wide.
In addition to 43 characters, Code 93 defines 5 special characters (including a start/stop character), which can be combined with other characters to unambiguously represent all 128 ASCII characters.



LOGMARS (Logistics Applications of Automated Marking and Reading Symbols) is a special application of Code 39 used by the U.S. Department of Defense and is governed by Military Standard MIL-STD-1189B.


MSI Barcodes

MSI (also known as Modified Plessey) is a barcode symbology developed by the MSI Data Corporation, based on the original Plessey Code symbology. It is a continuous symbology that is not self-checking. MSI is used primarily for inventory control, marking storage containers and shelves in warehouse environments.


Pharmacode Barcode

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 protect itself from legal liability) is correctly printed.

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