What is a Barcode?

Answer
Physically, barcodes are made up of a series of lines that vary in width and correspond to various numeric, alphanumeric, or multicode configurations which can then be read in by a barcode scanner.

Barcodes are applied to products as a means of quick identification. In today’s world, barcodes are used in almost every aspect of business, from Retail, Warehousing, Office, Health, Government and Schools and many other uses.

Two Kinds of Barcodes

1D Barcodes

Series of lines used to store text information, such as product type, size, and color. They appear in the top part of universal product codes (UPCs) used on product packaging, to help track packages through the U.S. Postal Service, as well as in ISBN numbers on the back of books.

2D Barcodes

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 image scanners will.

The information that the barcode contains is used to link to a record in a file or database containing other information about the item that the barcode is attached to such as description, price or stock on hand availability.

There are multiple barcode symbologies, each symbology follows an algorithm for standardizing the encoding and storing of the characters that makeup the barcode.
For more details on Barcode Symbologies, see our information sheet on Barcode Symbologies in our FAQ area.

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