One-Dimensional (1D) Barcode Types
UPC Code – These are used to label and scan consumer goods at point-of-sale around the world, but mostly in the US. the first and more common variation is UPC-A, which encodes 12 numerical digits. Meanwhile, UPC-E, a smaller variation, encodes only 6 digits.
EAN Code – These are similar to UPC, but are used primarily in Europe. They are used for a geographical application. The EAN-13 has 13 digits and is the default form factor. EAN-8, on the other hand, barcodes on products where only limited space is available, like small candies, for example.
Code 39 – You may see these referred to Code 3 of 9 as well. They are used across many industries, especially the automotive industry and the US Department of defense. What makes this one different is that it uses both numerical digits and characters. The name comes from the fact that it can only encode 39 characters (even though it has not upgraded to 43).
Code 128 – This one is similar to Code 39, but is much more compact. These high-density codes are used in logistics and transportation industries for ordering and distribution — not so much POS. Code 128 barcodes are useful in supply chain applications because they can store diversified information and support any character of the ASCII 128 character set.
ITF – AKA Interleaved 2 of 5. These are used to label packaging materials all around the world. They are capable of handling high printing demands, especially when printing on corrugated cardboard. ITF barcodes encode 14 numeric digits and use the full ASCII set.
Code 39 – These barcodes are used in logistics to identify packages in retail inventory, label electronic components, and also provide supplementary delivery information for the Canadian Post. It is similar to the Code 39 barcode in that it comes with full ASCII support, but it is an improved version. The barcode itself enables additional security and its compact size makes it much shorter.
Codabar – This one is used by logistics and healthcare professionals, like the U.S. blood banks, FedEx, photo labs, and libraries. It is super easy to print and can be produced by any impact style printer (that includes typewriters for those of you who still have one of those!). No computer is necessary! Codabar barcodes are discrete, self-checking, and able to encode up to 16 different characters with an additional 4 start/stop characters.
GS1 Databar – Also called the Reduced Space Symbology, this standard barcode type is used for retail coupons in the US. They are used to identify consumer coupons, produce, perishables, and even some things in the healthcare industry.
MSI Plessy – You can find these barcode labels on the shelves at the supermarket. They are used for inventory management in retail environments.