Barcodes – Part 2

Code 3 of 9 or Code 39

This is a very common generic barcode. It supports uppercase alpha and numeric and some special characters (space, $, %, /, +, -). This a reliable variable length barcode. Field must have an asterisk (*) as a start and end character. This barcode can be quite long considering then length of the field, so if you have a large amount of data and limited space to print barcode, you may want to look at other symbologies. This barcode is used as AIAG or LOGMARS.

Use this symbology often as there are many free 3of9 fonts available. These can be used with just about any software (Excel, Word, Crystal, etc.) simply by adding leading and trailing asterisks and changing the font.

There are options to have Full ASCII 3of9 barcode which supports above plus using 2 characters can support 128 ASCII characters.

Code 128

Code 128 is a very powerful bar code, combining an extensive character set and variable length with compactness and error checking. The character set contains all 128 ASCII characters. Error checking is at both character (parity) and also last character is a checksum. This error checking parity and checksum can be difficult to calculate manually. It is probably best to use software that will calculate them for you.

The Code 128 barcode code sets include: Code 128 code set A, Code 128 code set B, and Code 128 code set C. These different Code 218 code sets represent different character sets. The code sets within a Code 128 bar code is determined by the start bars. There are three different Code 128 start bars: code set A, code set B, and code set C. The start bars for each of the code sets is unique. This allows barcode scanners to auto discriminate between them.

Codeset A barcodes are used for alphanumeric data with uppercase letters only. Code set A includes lots of non-typeable control codes in it.

Codeset B barcodes are used for alphanumeric data including both uppercase letters/capital letters and lowercase letters, as well as the numbers 0-9, and punctuation marks. Code set B is very close to the full lower 128 ASCII character set.

Codeset C barcodes are numeric-only. Code set C symbols can contain only contain numbers, never letters. The advantage is that code set C symbols are narrower than code set A and code set B barcodes.

GSI-128 (formerly UCC/EAN128)

GS1-128 is an application standard and subset of the Code 128. This includes Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) which start with 00 and Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) which start with 01.

GS1-128 allows for storing Application Identifiers (AI) that allow for describing the item in more detail. AI can include: item number, lot number, weight, serial number, production date, expiry date, best before date, length/width/depth, etc. This can be very helpful as a single scan can provide a lot of information about the product.


Is a bar code symbology used mostly for items in retail environments. UPC is a numeric only barcode that includes check digit. It is a fixed length barcode. UPC-A is 12 digits. First digit of 0,1,6,7,8,9 are for most items. Next 5 digits would be vendor code. Next 5 would be product and last would be check digit. First digit of 2 re used for items that are sold by weight. Next 5 would be product. Next 1 would indicate weight (0) or price.  First digit of 3 would indicate National Drug Code (NDG).

This code could also be EAN-13 with extra digit to allow for more combinations by allowing more vendor codes.

Interleaved 2 of 5

Is a numeric only even number of digits barcode. This symbology is known to be susceptible to partial reads. You may want to have a fixed length barcode and validate the length and/or add a check digit to you value.


Codabar is widely used in libraries, blood banks, the cotton industry and transportation industries. Its character set consists of numbers 0 through 9, and punctuation characters + . – / : and $. Symbols a, b, c, d, t, n, * and e are used as start and stop characters.
Codabar is a numeric-only code, but different combinations of start and stop characters can be used to identify different types of labels. Codabar’s variable data length and extremely low error rate make for a versatile barcode.


PDF417 is a stacked linear barcode symbol format used in a variety of applications, primarily transport, identification cards, and inventory management. PDF stands for Portable Data File.

PDF417 is one of the formats that can be used to print postage accepted by the USPS. PDF417 is also selected by the airline industry’s Bar Coded Boarding Pass standard as the 2D bar code symbolism for paper boarding passes. It is also used by FedEx on package labels.

PDF417 is a stacked barcode that can be read with a simple linear scan being swept over the symbol. Other 2D codes, such as DataMatrix and QR are decoded with image sensors instead of uncoordinated linear scans. In practice, a PDF417 symbol takes about four times the area of a DataMatrix or QR Code


A Data Matrix code is a 2D barcode consisting of black and white “cells” or modules arranged in either a square or rectangular pattern. Error correction codes are often used to increase reliability: even if one or more cells are damaged so it is unreadable, the message can still be read. A Data Matrix symbol can store up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters. Note it does not support Kanji. Datamatrix can also be used for GS1-128 that will have smaller footprint.

Quick Response (QR) Code

QR codes may be used to display text to the user, to add a vCard contact to the user’s device, to open a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), or to compose an email or text message. Users can generate and print their own QR codes for others to scan and use by visiting one of several paid and free QR code generating sites or apps. The technology has since become one of the most used types of two-dimensional barcode.

The amount of data that can be stored in the QR code symbol depends on the datatype (mode, or input character set), version (1, …, 40, indicating the overall dimensions of the symbol), and error correction level. The maximum storage capacities are numeric 7089, alphanumeric 4096 and binary 2953.




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