A barcode is a way of displaying information as a symbol, in a way that can easily be read by electronic devices. They are used to hold information about a product or item such as a product code, asset number or patient ID. One of the most common applications for barcodes is in shops and supermarkets, where a barcode on each product is read at the checkout to retrieve the price from a central database and update customer and stock information. Barcodes are extremely common and can be found in all types of industries, government organisations and public services.

What is the difference between 1D and 2D barcodes?

Barcodes come in two main types or symbologies; one dimensional barcodes (1D or linear) and two dimensional barcodes (2D). A 1D barcode typically contains between 8 and 13 characters respectively, a 2D barcode can contain up to 108 characters. 1D barcodes typically contain a part number, product code or patient number etc. When a barcode is read and input into a computer, it is typically cross referenced to either a local or central database, where large amounts of information can be automatically retrieved for the item scanned. The database could contain information on pricing in a retail application, location and stock in manufacturing and location and keeper in an asset tracking application. 2D barcodes will typically contain more detailed information about the item such as the full address of the recipient in the case of parcel delivery. Find out more about barcodes through our online barcode guides