Understanding Common Barcode Symbologies

A barcode is an optical, machine-readable representation of data. A barcode’s symbology refers to the encoding of information into the barcode image.

Traditional one-dimensional (1D), linear barcodes represent data by varying the width and spacing of parallel lines. Two-dimensional (2D) barcodes use rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns, called matrix codes, that can contain a great deal more information than a typical 1D barcode.

There are a vast number of barcode symbologies available. Let’s look at some of the more common ones used by ID Label in its engineering and design process.

close up of barcode image

 

A barcode is an optical, machine-readable representation of data. A barcode’s symbology refers to the encoding of information into the barcode image.

code 39 barcode image

Code 39

Code 39 is a variable length barcode symbology. Its 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. Each character is composed of nine elements: five bars and four spaces.

Code 128

Code 128 is a high-density linear barcode symbology. It is used for alphanumeric or numeric-only barcodes. Code 128 specifications include 108 symbols: 103 data symbols, 3 start symbols, and 2 stop symbols. Each symbol consist of three black bars and three white spaces of varying widths. There are several Code 128 subtypes.

Code 128A

Encodes numbers, capital letters, and punctuation.

Encodes numbers, capital letters, lower case letters, and punctuation.

Code 128B

Encodes numbers, capital letters, lower case letters, and punctuation.

code 128A barcode image
Code 128A barcode image
code 128B barcode image
Code 128B barcode image
code 128C barcode image
Code 128C barcode image

Code 128C

Encodes numeric barcodes where two digits (00-99) are used as a single code point.

code 128 auto optimized barcode image
Code 128 Auto

CODE 128 Auto (Optimized)

Encodes numbers, capital letters, lower case letters, and punctuation. Analyzes the data and chooses the best combination of 128A, B, and C to create the smallest barcode possible.

DataMatrix

Encodes up to 2,335 characters of alphanumeric data. A DataMatrix code is a 2D barcode consisting of black and white “cells” or modules arranged in a square or rectangle pattern.

Datamatrix barcode image
Datamatrix barcode image

QR Code

Encodes long strings of alphanumeric data, typically text or a URL. QR codes are 2D barcodes that can be read by smartphones and other readers. The codes, made of small squares in black and white patterns, appear in a variety of places such as product packaging and magazine and newspaper ads.

QR code barcode image
QR code barcode image

Learn More

Interested in learning more about which barcode symbology is best for your application? Contact us to speak with one of our barcoding experts.

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The ID Label Advantage

ID Label manufactures extremely durable warehouse rack and bin location labels. Our materials have been tested and used in warehouse operations around the globe.

We also provide warehouse signage and turnkey nationwide installation services to provide a complete solution to our many clients who rely on us for all their warehousing needs.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today.