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The Difference between Symbologies

    Numeric-Only Symbologies

    • UPC-Based Symbologies:

      • UPC-A: Used with consumer products in U.S., 12 characters

      • UPC-E: Short version of UPC symbol, 6 characters

      • EAN-13: Used with consumer products internationally, 13 characters

      • EAN-8: Short version of EAN-13, 8 characters

      • JAN Codes: Same as EAN-13, used in Japan

      • Bookland: Used to mark books with ISBN number

    • UPC-Based Extentions

      • 2-Digit Ext.: Used to indicate magazines and newspaper issue numbers

      • 5-Digit Ext.: Used to mark suggested retail price of books

    • 2 of 5 Symbologies:

      • Standard 2 of 5: Used in airline ticket marking, photofinishing

      • Industrial 2 of 5: Same as Standard 2 of 5

      • Interleaved 2 of 5: Used in warehouse, industrial applications

    • Pulse Width Modulated Symbologies:

      • Plessey Code: Old symbology, used for shelf marking in retail enviornments

      • MSI: Variation of Plessey code, with similar applications

      • Modified Plessey Code: Same as MSI

      • Anker Code: Used in European POS systems before EAN was implementated

    • Code 11 (USD-8): Used to identify telecommunications equipment

    • Postnet: Printed by U.S. Post Office on envelopes

    • Codabar (aka Ames Code/USD-4/NW-7/2 of 7 Code): Used in libraries and blood banks

    Alphanumeric Symbologies


    • Code 128 Based Symbologies

      • Code 128: Very dense code, used extensively worldwide

      • UCC/EAN-128: Used to encode shipping/product information

      • SISAC: Used to encode serial items/periodic magazines

    • Code 39 (aka USD-3, 3 of 9): U.S. Government and military use, required for DoD applications

    • Code 93 (aka USS-93): Compressed form of Code 39

    2-Dimensional (2D) Symbologies 

    • Code 49

    • QR Code

    • Data Matrix

    • Aztec

    • Maxicode

    • PDF 417 

    • Micro PDF417