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Barcode Formats

Guide to the different range of barcode formats available and their applications. 

  Click to receive a PDF version of our Beginners Guide


Find out more about barcodes, use our quick links:

1D Formats

Code 39

Code 128

Interleave 2 of 5

EAN 13


EAN 128



2D Formats 

PDF 417


1D Barcode Formats



One of the early barcodes, still used extensively outside the food industry (Alpha/Numeric)



CODE 128

More efficient barcode than Code 39, used in food and non food industries (Alpha/Numeric)



Numbers only, must be an even number of digits



EAN13 / 8

The bar code that appears on all goods sold in shops and supermarkets.

First 2 Numbers = Country Code (UK=50), Next 5 = Company ID

Next 5 = Product Code, Last Digit = Check Digit



EAN 128

Used to identify outer cases and trays entering supermarkets, e.g Tesco tray labels

Special version of code 128 using numeric data only. Used in many industries, including barcoding outer boxes going into supermarkets.

ITF14 (top)

A version of Interleave 2 of 5, with 14 Characters. Used to barcode outer boxes going into supermarkets. Made up of 13 characters from the coresponding EAN13 barcode on the product inside the carton, plus a leading 0 to make 14.


UPCA (top)

This barcode is used in North America and appears on most products sold in shops and supermarkets. The numbers in the barcode are as follows.

1 - System digit

2-6 Supplier or manufacturers code (defined by registering body)

7-11 Product code (defined by supplier or manufacturer)

12 Check digit (automatically calculated by barcode software)




2D Barcode Formats

PDF 417

The PDF417 bar code consists of 3 to 90 rows, each of which is like a small linear bar code.





A Datamatrix barcode consists of black and white cells. The information to be encoded can be text or data.