Bar code glossary and symbologies PDF Print E-mail
Archives - Barcode

Bar code glossary and symbologies

Bar code glossary, examples and definitions

ANSI American National Standards Institute
2D barcodes or stacked bar codes

Example of a stacked bar code.

2D barcodes can store up to several thousand characters in comparison to the more familiar linear bar codes that generally hold between nine and twenty characters. This makes it possible, for example, that each label of a part shipment contains all of the information of the whole shipment. This significantly reduces the amount of paperwork needed for a shipment and negates the need for an external database to be read. 2D bar code symbols are more resistant to damage than linear symbols because of their encoding. 2D barcodes are public domain.

Examples of 2D bar codes are Datamatrix, Maxicode, PDF417 and PostNet (used by the United States Postal Service).
Bar code density or barcode resolution Bar code resolution is measured by the narrowest element and is divided into high, medium and low resolution.

High density - less than 0.23 mm (0.009 inches)

Medium density - between 0.23 mm and 0.5 mm (0.009 - 0.2 inches)

Low density - greater than 0.5 mm (0.2 inch).

CCD scanner Charged Coupled Device.
A charge-coupled device (CCD) is a light-sensitive integrated circuit that stores and displays the data for an image in such a way that each pixel (picture element) in the image is converted into an electrical charge the intensity of which is related to a color in the color spectrum. For a system supporting 65,535 colors, there will be a separate value for each color that can be stored and recovered. CCDs are now commonly included in digital still and video cameras. They are also used in astronomical telescopes, scanners, and bar code readers. The devices have also found use in machine vision for robots, in optical character recognition (OCR), in the processing of satellite photographs, and in the enhancement of radar images, especially in meteorology.
CEN European Committee for Normalization
CODABAR Codabar is a variable length bar code symbology capable of encoding a maximum length of 16 characters. The code contains six alphanumeric characters, capital letters A through D and the numeric digits. It is rarely used anymore.
Code 39 Code 39 is a variable length bar code symbology most popular in industrial bar code systems. It is capable of using the 128 character ASCII set by utilising any one of four special characters as an indicator digit. It uses three wide bars and six narrow bar, hence it's name - 3, 9.
Code 93 Code 93 is similar to Code 39 in that it can encode the 128 ASCII character set by using 9 sets of bars with an adjacent space. Two characters function as check digits.
Code 128 Code 128 is a variable length bar code symbology and one of the most popular and flexible bar code symbologies. It can encode the 128 ASCII character set, supporting all numeric and alphanumeric characters. It has the highest number of characters per inch and a built-in message integrity check routine.
Datamatrix Datamatrix is a 2D, variable length symbology capable of encoding the 128 ASCII character plus a number of other character sets. The Datamatrix code can hold 500 MB of data per square inch with a capacity of 1 to 2335 characters. It has a high degree of redundancy and is resistant printing defects and damage.
EAN European Article Number
EAN International EAN International, in Brussels, Belgium jointly manages the EAN system with its American counterpart the UCC based in Ohio.
EAN-JAN code
EAN 8 barcode example at 100% - Links999 barcodes. EAN 13 barcode example at 100% - Links999 barcodes.
EAN 8 at 100% EAN 13 at 100%
The EAN/JAN 13 is a fixed length bar code  similar to the UPC-A symbology, but with a 13th digit used, together with the 12th digit, to indicate a country designation.

The EAN/JAN-8 is fixed length and is similar to the UPC-E code. It is often used for products that are physically too small for the EAN-13 bar code label.

The nominal height for the EAN/JAN-13 and EAN/JAN bar codes is one inch. The reduced size is 80% of the nominal size.

EAN 128

EAN 128 barcode example at 80% - Links999 barcodes.

EAN 128 at 50%

The EAN-128 symbology is used in the retail industry for outer packaging of goods as an alternative to the ITF14 barcode. It can be used on goods with a short shelf life and showing the best before date Application Identifier (AI) (15), other supplementary data and is the only symbology recommended to show variable measure in traded units. EAN-128 is used to show the 18 digit Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) number which is allocated uniquely to a shipment of, for example, pallets or boxes (which could contain a mix of products).
Source: Axicon UK
ECCC Electronic Commerce Council of Canada - manages the Canadian EAN-UCC system for Canada.
GIAI Global Individual Asset Identifier
GLN Global Location Number
GRAI Global Returnable Asset Identifier
GSRN Global Service Relation Number
GTIN Global Trade Item Number
Interleaved 2 of 5 Interleaved 2 of 5 is a even numbered, variable length bar code most often used in industrial applications and master carton labelling. The bars represent the first character with the second character represented by the following white space in a two wide and three narrow element set per character.
ISO International Standards Organisation

ITF-14 Barcode example at 80% - Links999 barcodes.

ITF-14 at 50%

The ITF-14 Traded Unit Case Code is used in the retail sector on outer cases and pallets (traded units). The 14 digit number is numeric and used to display the unique traded unit number. Bearer bars must be included, in the horizontal form for codes printed on labels, and as a full box (with H gauges) for those printed directly onto corrugated.
Source: Axicon UK
Linear bar codes Linear bar codes are bar codes that can be read
Matrix bar codes (2D) Matrix bar codes contain a matrix of square, circular or hexagonal cells that make up the bar code symbol. This configuration allows for a higher data density than that of a stacked bar code, up to a ratio of 4-1. Matrix symbols must be read by a camera or CCD bar code scanner.
Maxicode (2D) The Maxicode is a 2D matrix type of bar code symbol. It has a fixed size of 1.1 by 1.05 inches and contains 866 hexagonal cells arranged in 33 rows around a central finder pattern. Primarily used by the United Parcel Service it can encode up to 93 characters of data, using five different code sets to encompass the full 256 ASCII set.
MSI Plessey MSI Plessey is a variable length numeric bar code symbology. The characters are made of  four bars with intervening spaces for each encoded digit, one or two symbol check digits, and a reverse start code. MSI Plessey is primarily used in the retail industry.
PDF417 PDF417 is a 2D variable length stacked bar code symbology which is able to encode all characters numeric and alphanumeric. The characters consists of 4 bars and 4 spaces in a 17 module structure and its name is derived from this structure. PDF stands for "Portable Data File". Each PDF417 symbol consists of 3 to 90 stacked rows surrounded by a quiet zone on all four sides. It can hold up to 340 characters per square inch with a maximum of 1850 text characters.
RSS Reduced Space Symbology
Stacked bar codes

Example of a stacked bar code.

Stacked bar codes are a set of linear bar codes stacked on top of each other.
SSCC Serial Shipping Container Code
UCS Uniform Communication Standard
UPC (A, E)
UPC-A barcode example at 100% - Links999 barcodes. UPC-E barcode example at 100% - Links999 barcodes.
UPC-A at 100% UPC-E at 100%
Universal Product Code.
The UPC-A (Universal Product Code-A) is a 12 digit fixed length bar code commonly used by supermarkets and other retail stores in the United States. The first six digits are assigned by the Uniform Code Council (UCC) in Dayton, Ohio, for products in the USA and Canada. The next five digits are assigned by the manufacturer, and the final digit is a modulo 10 check digit. The nominal height for the UPC-A bar code is one inch. The reduced size is 80% of the nominal size.

UPC-E (Universal Product Code-E) is a 6 digit  fixed length bar code symbology generally  used for small packages for example magazines and paperbacks. Printed, UPC-E code reverts to a twelve digit code. The nominal height for the UPC-E bar code is one inch. The reduced size is 80% of the nominal size.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button