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Bar codes help keep track of packages, retail items, documents and more. No universal barcode works for everything, so it is important to know about the different types of barcodes.

There are several different types of barcodes that are used for various applications. Each barcode addresses different types of information, specific to category of product. The width of the barcode along with the placement of the lines dictates the information contained in the code. The different types of barcodes are numeric, alphanumeric, and two-dimensional.

Numeric barcodes

Numeric bar codes include 12 different options. The 12 different numeric-only barcodes are:

  1. Codabar
    This is an older type of barcode most often seen in libraries, and occasionally seen in blood banks.

  2. Code 11
    This code is used to label telecommunications equipment.

  3. EAN-13
    This is the retail product code for Europe.

  4. EAN-8
    This is a smaller version of the retail product code for Europe used for smaller products.

  5. Industrial 2 of 5
    This is an early barcode and is generally no longer in use.

  6. Interleaved 2 of 5
    This is a small numeric code very commonly used in industry.

  7. MSI
    This code is commonly used in the United States and is a version of the Plessey code.

  8. Plessey
    This is an older code most commonly used in retail.

  9. PostNet
    This is the barcode the United States Postal Service uses to automatically sort mail.

  10. UPC-A
    This is a universal product code used on nearly all of the retail items sold in America and Canada.

  11. Standard 2 of 5
    This code is an older code which is not commonly used.

  12. UPC-E
    This code is a smaller version of the UPC-A code, for use on small products.

Alphanumeric barcodes

Alphanumeric barcodes have 4 different choices.

  1. Code 128
    This code is one of the most commonly used world-wide because of its high capability and reliability.

  2. Code 39
    This is a general code used worldwide.

  3. Code 93
    This is a compact version of Code 39

    This code is the United States Government specification-the same as code 39.

Two dimensional barcodes

The two dimensional codes have 7 options.

  1. PDF417
    This code allows for large data storage.

  2. DataMatrix
    This code is good for small codes and will store large amounts of data.

  3. Maxicode
    This is a code used for the United States Postal Service and is fixed length for automatic package sorting.

  4. QR Code
    This code is commonly used for order confirmation.

  5. Data Code

  6. Code 49

  7. 16K

Barcode standards

Along with the three different major types of barcodes, there are sets of standards and guidelines for all of them. These standards include:

  1. Bookland EAN encodes ISBN numbers
    The codes used to mark all books internationally.

  2. ISSN and the SISAC Barcode
    International Standard Serial Numbering

  3. OPC
    This is the Optical Industry Association's product code used to code retail optical products.

  4. UCC/EAN-128
    This is the data formatting model for Code-128 that is very commonly used.

  5. UPC Shipping Container Symbol

Knowing the types of barcodes will assist in getting the correct barcodes for products and the right barcode scanners and equipment.

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