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The Basics of a Barcode

Overview

A barcode is a square or rectangular image consisting of a series of black lines or squares and white spaces of varying sizes that can be read by a scanner. Barcodes are applied to products as a means of quick identification. They are used in retail stores as part of the purchase process, in warehouses to track inventory, and on invoices to assist in accounting, among many other uses.

Two Types of Barcodes

There are two general types of barcodes: 1-dimensional (1D) and 2-dimensional (2D).

1D barcodes are a series of lines used to store text information, such as product type, size, and color. They appear in the universal product codes (UPC) used on product packaging. For example, when you go to the grocery store and see the Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode on a product, it is basically a string of numbers that represents the manufacturer and item.

2D barcodes are more complex and can include more information than just text, such as the price, quantity, and even an image. For that reason, linear barcode scanners can’t read them, though smartphones and other tablets with imagers will.  A single 2D barcode can hold a significant amount of information and may remain legible even when printed at a small size or etched onto a product.

Start Generating Barcodes

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