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TAS: 03 6237 0748
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Regional Numbers
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All About Barcode (Bar Code) Symbologies

Symbology Character Set Description
Australia Post 4-State Customer Code

Upper and lower case letters, numerals, and space and # The Australia Post 4-State Customer Code is a variation of the Royal Mail 4-State Customer Code and is used for faster automatic processing of bulk mail.

Aztec Code

All binary data up to 255 Aztec is a two-dimensional general-purpose matrix symbology designed to have a higher accuracy than other two-dimensional symbologies. A symbol can hold up to 3832 digits, or 3067 characters, or 1914 bytes. The size, and the degree of error correction, can be fixed at label-design-time or set to change automatically in response to the length of the data. Printing White-on-Black is an option. The example Aztec Code on the left contains the data, "Barcoder, PO Box 427, Castle Hill, NSW, 1765, (02) 8207 3167"

Numeric, plus $-:/.+ Codabar was originally developed for use in retail price-labelling systems. However, after the US National Retail Merchants Association (NRMA) selected another symbology as their standard in 1975, Codabar was promoted for use in a variety of non-retail applications such as libraries, shipping, and the medical industry. However, because Codabar is not as versatile or reliable as the other symbologies, the trend in bar code use since the 1980s has moved from Codabar and toward the other symbologies.
Code 39 - Full ASCII

All 128 ASCII chars. The Code 39 - Full ASCII (pronounced "ASK EE") symbology is similar to Code 39 - Regular. To successfully print and read Code 39 - Full ASCII, the bar code object on the label format file must have "Code 39 - Full ASCII" selected as the symbology to print. In addition, the bar code reader being used to scan the bar codes must be configured to perform Full ASCII character translations. If the scanner is not configured to read Full ASCII, lower case letters may be decoded as upper case letters preceded by the "+" character, e.g. B+A+R+C+O+D+E+R-1234 for the example shown on the left.
Code 39 - Regular

43 alphanumeric chars. The Code 39 - Regular symbology was developed to meet the need for a fully alphanumeric bar code for use with data-entry systems. (An alphanumeric symbology can represent both letters and numbers in its bar codes.) It is currently the most widely used alphanumeric bar code and has been accepted as a standard code by many organisations and given different names. Code 39 - Regular can only encode upper case characters. Lower case characters will be encoded as the "0" (zero) character.
Code 93

All 128 ASCII chars. Code 93 is an alphanumeric, variable length symbology developed and maintained by Intermec Corporation. It combines some of the characteristics of Code 39 and Code 128 into a single bar code language. As with Code 128, each Code 93 character is made up of three bars and three spaces, each of which can be single, double, triple, or quadruple thickness. Also, as with Code 128, Code 93 can represent the entire 128-character ASCII set. However, whereas Code 128 represents most of the 128 characters with separate, unique characters, Code 93 employs the same 43-character base set as Code 39, and uses two-character combinations to represent the rest of the 128-character set. Code 128 is a more versatile and efficient bar code language than Code 93, especially when representing numbers.
Code 128 (A, B & C )

All 128 ASCII chars. The Code 128 character set was introduced in 1981 to solve the problem of representing both alphabetic and numeric characters without sacrificing bar code density.

Although Code 39 - Full ASCII can represent any combination of the 128 ASCII characters, it can take up a fair amount of space to do so. On the other hand, although Interleaved 2-of-5 is a very dense symbology, it can only store numeric information. Code 128 not only gives you the ability to encode all 128 ASCII characters, when encoding numbers only, it can actually encode them more densely than Interleaved 2-of-5.

The most common use of Code 128 is for certain shipping labels, primarily as defined by the Uniform Code Council in their UCC-128 shipping container bar coding standard. When used for this purpose, Code 128 is sometimes called UCC/EAN-128

Although Code 128 can encode all 128 lower ASCII characters, the character set itself contains only 102 characters. This is possible because Code 128 actually contains three different sets of 102 characters. The default character set in use for any Code 128 bar code is determined by the start character. However, once a Code 128 bar code is started, it is possible to switch between the different character sets in the middle of the bar code. Because it is possible to use any combination of the three character sets in a single bar code, Code 128 gives you the greatest possible character density when encoding data into bar codes.

The three character code sets can be summarised as follows:

Code A - The Full ASCII set, except for the 26 lower case letters.

Code B - The Full ASCII set, except for the 26 "control" characters.

Code C - Double-density numeric. This character set is numeric-only, but any one character actually represents two digits. Therefore, 100 of the 102 characters in code set C are used to represent the 100 two-character combinations from 00 through 99. NOTE: You need to have an even number of digits in the bar code data.

Composites (EAN.UCC)

Upper and lower case letters, numerals, and ! " % & ' ( ) * + , - . / : ; < = > ? _ and space A composite bar code consists of a one-dimensional bar code below a two-dimensional bar code with a separator pattern between them. The one-dimensional component encodes the primary item ID number using the EAN.UCC system of identification numbers. The two-dimensional component encodes secondary data such as expiration date or batch number.

The one-dimensional part can be Code 128, EAN/JAN-8, EAN/JAN-13, RSS Limited, UPC-A, or any member of the RSS-14 and RSS Expanded families.

The two-dimensional component is always CC-A, CC-B, or CC-C symbology. If the one-dimensional component is any symbology except Code 128, the label printing software must use CC-A for the two-dimensional part when the data is less than 57 characters, otherwise it must use CC-B. Users can choose to use CC-C when the one-dimensional component is Code 128.

Data Matrix

All ASCII chars Data Matrix is a 2-dimensional, variable size, matrix symbology capable of supporting several different character sets. The example Data Matrix code on the left contains the data, "Barcoder, PO Box 427, Castle Hill, NSW, 1765, (02) 8207 3167."

Numeric only EAN stands for the European Article Numbering system, which is used in most parts of the world except the USA. It is very similar to UPC.

In Australia EAN numbers are allocated by GS1 Australia.

EAN bar codes are used in the Australian retail system. Products encoded with UPC bar codes can also be used in the Australian retail system, but products manufactured and registered in Australia with GS1 will always contain an EAN bar code. It is usual to allocate an EAN-13 bar code to a product. EAN-8 bar codes are used on small products where there may not be enough room to accommodate an EAN-13 bar code.

The Japanese version of EAN is JAN, which stands for the Japanese Article Numbering system.


Numeric only
Interleaved 2-of-5

Numeric only Interleaved 2-of-5 is often selected instead of Code 39 because bar code messages that only contain numbers can be encoded in Interleaved 2-of-5 using about half the space required by Code 39.

All binary data up to 255 MicroPDF417 is a two-dimensional, variable length, stacked symbology designed to minimize symbol size relative to the amount of encoded data. The example MicroPDF417 code on the left contains the data, "82073167"
MSI Plessey

Numeric only MSI Plessey is a numeric, variable length symbology originally developed by the Plessey Company of England in the early 1970s. However, the most widely supported version, "MSI" Plessey, is currently maintained by Symbol Technologies, Inc.

Like Interleaved 2-of-5 and UPC, Plessey is an all-numeric language. It has an interesting simplicity in that the bar code pattern for each character is a simple binary pattern of "zeros" and "ones" that directly represent the given number. Accordingly, with casual familiarity with the code, you can actually read the bar codes with your eyes. However, Plessey does not encode numbers efficiently, and other characteristics of the language make it one of the most error-prone of all bar code languages. Accordingly, the MSI company came out with a revised standard for the Plessey language (now called MSI Plessey) which employed a second check digit. This improved the reliability of the language enough so that the MSI version of the code has continued in use in specialty applications.

Although Plessey was originally developed for use in the library industry, its use in libraries is now quite rare. Today, MSI Plessey is the most common bar code language used for inventory tracking on the shelves in supermarkets. While MSI Plessey is not actually used on the products themselves (which contain UPC, EAN or JAN codes), it is used on the front edge of the shelves to indicate where each product is stored.


All binary data up to 255 PDF417 is a two-dimensional, variable length, stacked symbology that has a large data capacity. The example PDF417 code on the left contains the data, "Barcoder, PO Box 427, Castle Hill, NSW, 1765, (02) 8207 3167."
QR Code

45 Alphanumeric chars, Binary data, Kanji chars Designed by Denso in Japan, QR (Quick Response) Code is a 2 dimensional general-purpose matrix intended for use on smaller labels. This bar code was also designed for faster scanning of information and efficiently encodes Kanji characters. Although it can be used anywhere, this symbology is mostly used in Japan. The example QR code on the left contains the data, "Barcoder, PO Box 427, Castle Hill, NSW, 1765, (02) 8207 3167"

Numeric only The RSS-14 symbology was created by EAN.UCC for use when the available space for a bar code is limited. There is a basic RSS-14 symbology plus three special members of this family of symbologies: RSS-14 Truncated, RSS-14 Stacked, and RSS-14 Stacked Omni-directional. All are one-dimensional symbologies. All are bidirectionally decodable and use a mod 79 checksum for error correction. RSS-14 and the RSS-14 Stacked Omni-directional symbology can be read omni-directionally.
RSS Expanded

Upper and lower case letters, numerals, and ! " % & ' ( ) * + , - . / : ; < = > ? _ and space The RSS Expanded family of bar codes includes a basic symbology and a stacked symbology. Both can be read omni-directionally and use a mod 211 checksum for error correction. Data strings are stored internally as binary numbers.
RSS Limited

Numeric only RSS Limited is intended for applications where space is extremely limited and omni-directional scanning is not required. It is bidirectionally decodable and uses a mod 89 checksum for error correction.

All 128 ASCII chars. as binary data Telepen is a one-dimensional symbology designed to be highly reliable even when printed by ordinary printers not intended for bar code printing. Any of the lower 128 ASCII characters can be encoded. Every character takes the same amount of space, so bar code length will not vary unless the data length itself varies. A modulo 127 check character is used. You can achieve greater bar code density by specifying at label-design-time that the bar code should be numeric-only.

Numeric only UPC stands for the Universal Product Code. This symbology was initially adopted for use by the U.S. grocery industry, although its use has spread into other retail market places as well. The Uniform Code Council (UCC) controls the allocation of UPC codes.

Numeric only