Basic Things to Know about Barcode Symbology – 1D Barcode Symbologies

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What would today’s worldwide markets look like without barcodes? How many extra hours of work would be required to fill in the gaps associated with the absence of an effective barcoding technology? According to Chron Small Business, today most companies rely on a modern, cost-effective barcode system to keep better track of their inventory, simplify store management, minimize or eliminate losses associated with delivery and ultimately save time and money.

What Is a Barcode?

Barcode systems have come a long way. A barcode is the representation of certain data that is 100% machine-readable and comes attached to a certain object. In the early days, barcodes represented data only by reflecting variations in the width and spacing of parallel lines. This barcode system is known as one-dimensional or linear (1D). On the other hand, 2D systems are a bit more complex and involve the presence of several 2D geometric patterns (hexagons, dots and rectangles). The functionality of a barcode system depends on interpretative software and scanners. At first, companies used optical scanners (known as barcode readers) to be able to scan and interpret the information carried by barcodes. Later on, interpretative software and barcode scanners have become widely available on a great variety of devices, including smartphones and desktops.

Most Common Linear Symbologies

1D barcode systems are still incredibly popular today and are considered one of the most simple and effective optical recognition solutions. This system comprised of parallel lines varying in width and spaces has been in use for more than 25 years now. Throughout a quarter of a decade, this technology has witnessed several changes resulting in no less than one hundred encodation schemes (symbologies). Only around 20 such options are recognized and adopted on an international level. According to eHow, at this point there are around 300 different barcode symbologies that prove their utility in different industries. Some of the most common linear symbologies are the following:

  1. Code 128: Code 128 is a high-density symbology primarily used in the packaging and shipping industry.
  2. The Universal Product Code (UPC): UPC has opened the doors to product marking in 1973. Since April 3rd, UPC has been recognized as the standard barcode symbology for the grocery industry.
  3. Code 39: Code 39 has been designed to fit the needs of the automotive and defense industries. It represents an alphanumerical code that can encode 7 special characters, 10 digits and 26 letters. In this case, symbols can be as big as needed, to store all the encoded data.
  4. Interleaved 2-of-5 (ITF): This high-density code was used in the packaging industry. It only encodes a succession of numbers and can comprise approximately 18 digits/inch. Nonetheless, this system got replaced by Code 128.
  5. Codabar: Codabar is currently used in a great variety of data-processing applications. It represents an ideal alternative for blood banks, libraries and companies offering overnight package delivery services. This system manages to encode 9 special characters, stop/start characters, as well as digits 0-9.
  6. Code 93: Code 93 ensures higher data density for alphanumerical information than both its similar candidates for this job (Code 128 or Code 39). In this case, every single symbol comprises 2 check characters. This system is being used by Canada Post.
  7. Channel Code: This 1D barcode system is used to encode digit strings of different lengths (2 to 7 digits).
  8. Telepen: According to, Telepen is a barcode system that has been adopted by universities, motor industry, libraries, the military and several other organizations. This symbology basically supports (and encodes) all ASCII characters, without the space character.
  9. GS1 DataBar: This type of symbology has proven its utility in the healthcare industry. It is mainly used to encode and decode the data listed on surgical products and pharmaceuticals. This system has also managed to solve problems impacting the grocery industry, which were associated with incorrect product markings or the absence of machine-readable data.
  10. PosiCode: PosiCode represents a position-based system, unlike most 1D barcode solutions that are known as absence/presence symbologies. This system has two variations: PosiCode A and PosiCode B.

How Can a Barcode System Aid Your Business?

Naturally, after taking a closer look at all these popular 1D symbologies, one question comes to mind: how can barcodes actually help me grow and maintain my business? In this case, you should know that the right hardware kit allows you to accept both cash and credit payments, print receipts and ensure a superior client service. The hardware kit brought to you by Shopify includes an iPad stand, a retail card reader, a cash drawer and a wireless receipt printer. For less than $650 you can get your hands on all the equipment that you may need to complete successful transactions anytime, anywhere. Barcodes make your life a whole lot easier by automating your daily operations. At the same time, a complete, affordable hardware kit lets you respond to the needs of all your customers, speed up your sales cycle and save big in the process.


+Ayodhyanath Guru holds a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering and has worked with various prestigious clients in the IT industry and presently working as a Software Engineer. He is a part time blogger and presently authors the Jafaloo.Com blog. Being a tech enthusiast Guru likes to surf the web and blogs about interesting technical topics like How-To guides, freewares, Tutorials, Software, Gadgets, web applications etc. Apart from blogging he likes coding in Java/J2EE and PHP.

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