Overview of Common Barcode Symbologies

There are a variety of barcode formats, or symbologies, commonly used in industry and retail. Each format has particular strengths and weaknesses, and thus the barcode symbology chosen for a specific application should be the one that best addresses the specific needs of the environment and user.

Modern barcode scanners such as those carried by CSSI will typically be capable of reading a variety of different symbologies. When selecting barcode scanners, it’s important to understand the symbologies which the scanner will need to detect.

Common Barcode Symbologies

Here are the 10 most commonly used barcode formats and their common applications:

1D Barcodes
UPC (Universal Product Code)Typically used for retail items in North America. Great for high volume scanning.UPC barcode symbology srcset= " width=200">
EAN (European Article Number)Used for retail items in Europe. Good choice for high volume scanning.EAN barcode symbology
I 2 of 5 / ITF
(Interleaved 2 of 5)
Used in industrial and logistics applications, as well as in some retail environments. Frequently seen in shipping, warehouse, and laboratories.I 2 of 5 barcode symbology
Code 39Used for inventory and shipping management in various industries.Code 39 barcode symbology
Code 128Used for various applications including product tracking, inventory management, and shipping.Code 128 barcode symbology
2D Barcodes
QR CodeUsed for mobile phone scanning and access to digital content such as URLs and social media.QR Code barcode symbology
Data MatrixUsed for small items and high-density data storage, often in harsh environments. Manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, packing/sorting.Data matrix barcode symbology
PDF417Used for 2D barcode symbology, often in transportation and logistics, identification cards, and postal services.PDF417 barcode symbology
Aztec CodeUsed in retail, transportation, and event ticketing applications, among others.Aztec barcode symbology
MaxiCodeUsed in shipping and package delivery services, as well as some automotive applications.Maxicode barcode symbology

Contact CSSI

Need help selecting scanners or the right barcode format? Contact CSSI for assistance.