different types of barcodes

20 Different Types of Barcodes & When to Use Them

We’ve come a long way since the invention of the original barcode back in 1947. Today, there are many different types of barcodes based on industry type, where items are scanned, when items are scanned, and how items are scanned—among many other things.

Interested in knowing more about the different types of barcodes out there?  See below to find out!


Alpha-Numeric Barcodes
  • Code 39:  Code 39 is a general-purpose code that is the standard for many government barcode specifications.  It’s also found in numerous industries.
  • Code 93: This code is a more compact version of Code 39.
  • LOGMARS:  The Logistics Applications of Automated Marketing and Reading Symbols (LOGMARS) barcode is a special version of Code 39 utilized by the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Code 128:  This code is used across the world, primarily in shipping and packaging.  It has a great density and high reliability.


Numeric-Only Barcodes
  • Codabar: Blood banks, overnight package delivery companies, libraries, and other industries primarily use this older code.
  • Code 11: Companies who label telecommunications equipment use this code most often.
  • EAN-13: EAN stands for European Article Numbering. This code is a 13-character one that’s global and used for labeling retail products.
  • EAN-8: This code is a compressed version of EAN-13 and is used on smaller items.
  • Industrial 2 of 5: This self-checking code doesn’t have a checksum and has been used for many years.
  • Interleaved 2 of 5: Warehouse, industrial, and air cargo companies use this compact numeric code.
  • Plessey: First created in England, the Plessey code is used by libraries and retail stores today in the U.S.
  • MSI: This is a variation of the Plessey Code and is mostly used for shelf labeling in retail stores.
  • POSTNET: This U.S. Post Office code is used for sorting mail.
  • Standard 2 of 5: Not used very often anymore, the Standard 2 of 5 is a self-checking barcode utilized for applications like airline ticket marking and warehouse sorting.
  • UPC-A: All products being sold by U.S. retailers are marked with this universal product code.
  • UPC-E: This smaller version of the UPC-A is used for number system 0 and for labeling smaller items.


Two-Dimensional Barcodes:
  • DataMatrix: DataMatrix holds from 1-2,000 characters of data. Some common applications include: identifying circuit boards and making Japanese surgical instruments.
  • Maxicode: United Parcel Service (UPS) created this fixed-size code for package scanning.
  • PDF417: This rectangular-shaped code stores many characters—specifically, about 1,800 printable ASCII characters.
  • QR Code: You can scan a quick-response (QR) code on your smartphone and be immediately linked to a direct website.


To see these codes in more detail, check out this great barcode comparison chart from Measurement Equipment Corporation!

A quick note: this just a general overview of some of the different types of barcodes out there.  As technology advances and barcodes become more complicated and varied, don’t be surprised if new barcode types are invented and others potentially become phased out.


Do you have any questions about which barcodes you should use or how to obtain a barcode?  Which barcodes do you currently use?


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