Anyone new to the world of barcodes is likely to be a bit non-plussed by all the jargon they hear banded about or written on the code themselves. To an untrained eye barcode labels are no more than a series of black and white lines and alphanumeric symbols that mysteriously identify products, hold data, and silently and almost invisibly hold the key to a company’s retail and stock taking processes. Here’s a few FAQ jargon questions answered:
Do I need EAN-13 or EAN-8?
This is of interest to UK and Europe. These are the barcode labels you will see listed in countries outside off America. EAN-13 is the default retail code, and in the same way, EAN-8 is the condensed format used on packaging where there is very little room available to place the barcode. To bring a product to market you register with GS-1.
What’s the difference between UPC-A and UPC-E?
You will find these type of barcode labels in America. A UPC code is essential when you want to bring your product to market. America has its own GS1 system called GS1-US. UPC-A is the default retail barcode like above, while UPC-E is a condensed format mainly used on packaging where limited space is available.
What is code 128?
This barcode format, code 128 it can hold any character in the ASCII 128 character set. Therefore, it contains, letters, numbers and punctuation marks. The beauty of this code is it allows you to store large amounts of diversified information. Because it is compact in its coding it is used where there is little room to place the label.
So what is code 39?
With code 39 you can use numeric symbols and upper-case letters. This code is not as compact as code 128 so it is best used on products and parcels where you have generous space to place a barcode.
What’s the difference between 2d and 1d barcodes?
The 1d barcode labels are the traditional barcodes and is the barcode you will see on products in shops and in retail. They are sometimes called “linear” and need a barcode scanner to read them. They are used primarily in stores for stock-taking and the retail process. Also known as “dotmatrix” a 2d barcode uses dots to store data rather than the black and white bars of the 1d code. Used on mobile phones, magazine ads, and business cards and by consumers in the retail process to access direct information about a product they are read by an imaging device such as a camera.
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