Types of Barcodes An In-Depth Guide

Types of Barcodes

Understanding the Different Types of Barcodes

Barcodes have been around for about five decades and are a popular way to store information. They are one of the best ways to track, manage, and sell products. These scannable data representations have evolved, resulting in various barcodes. 

The different types offer unique advantages and challenges. Therefore, by analysing the range of options, you can arrive at the best one for your products.  

Currently, there are around thirty types of barcodes in use. Let us look at the most common types. 

1D Barcodes 

One-dimensional or 1D barcodes contain data within lines of varying widths and spacing between them. Although they can only carry a limited amount of data, they are still the most common types. 

Optical laser scanners can detect this variety of barcodes. For commercial purposes, industrial scanners would be ideal. 

Here are some 1D barcode types: 


Universal Product Code (UPC) scans and labels consumer retail goods worldwide, especially in the United States and Canada. They initially gained popularity for quick receipt printing and inventory tracking. They also facilitate efficient product tracking. 

UPC-A is a variation of the code, which encodes twelve numerical digits. Similarly, another variation, UPC-E, encodes six numerical digits. When combined with databases, it identifies products, each digit representing specific information about the item. 


European Article Number (EAN) can be considered the European equivalent of UPC, although it is used worldwide. It is similar to UPC. 

It mainly comes in two variations – EAN-13 and EAN-8. This offers considerable flexibility. EAN-13 is a high-density barcode with 13 digits to encode relatively large amounts of data. On the other hand, EAN-8 only uses 8 digits and is suitable for products where space is limited. 

Code 39 

This is one of the oldest one-dimensional barcodes. It encodes 39 (increased to 43) alphanumeric characters and is used widely across industries, primarily in the logistics, automotive, healthcare, and government sectors.  

However, Code 39 takes up a lot of space and is relatively low-density. 

Code 128 

Code 128, introduced more recently, was a huge step ahead of its predecessors. It can encode any character from the ASCII 128-character set, including numbers and pronunciation marks.  

Thanks to high data density and an ability to store diversified information in a compact form, Code 128 is widely used in shipping, manufacturing, and packaging.  

2D Barcodes 

Two-dimensional barcodes carry information on the vertical and horizontal axes using a grid of pixels. Barcodes can store more data per unit area than one-dimensional barcodes. 2D barcodes provide more accurate information, even when the code is damaged. 

2D barcodes cannot be read on older barcode scanners. They require image scanners. However, nowadays, smartphones are equipped with the technology to read 2D barcodes. 

QR Code 

Quick Response (QR) codes are one of the most recent innovations in barcode technology. They can store large amounts of data and are flexible in size. They can support different data modes, including numeric, alphanumeric, and binary.  

They have fast readability and can link to websites and multimedia content. As a result, they are used in marketing and mobile applications. 

Data Matrix 

Data matrix codes are incredibly compact, in addition to offering high-density data. This makes them ideal for marking small items, goods and documents. They are used in healthcare for drug labelling and manufacturing for part identification. 

In Conclusion  

Each industry requires a different type of barcode depending on its unique requirements. Similarly, an appropriate barcode scanner is also needed. 

At QUINTA, we offer a wide range of barcode scanners, including general-purpose, presentation, industrial, and wearable scanners to meet different requirements. Durable and equipped with the latest features, our scanners are ideal for your business. 

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