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Barcode FAQ Index:
Barcode Implementation Tutorials:

What data is encoded in various barcodes?

Some barcode types, or symbologies, encode only numbers while others encode letters and numbers. Other barcode types can actually encode files, pictures and other binary data. Here is a basic breakdown of a few barcode types and what they encode:

Barcode symbology Types of data encoded
Code 39 Numbers and upper case letters with a few symbols
Code 128 All numbers, letters and punctuation plus ASCII 0 to 127
Data Matrix All numbers, letters and punctuation, ASCII 0 to 127 plus files and bytes.
Interleaved 2 of 5 Numbers only
MSI Code Numbers only
PDF417 All numbers, letters and punctuation, ASCII 0 to 127 plus files and bytes.
Postnet Numbers only

Recommendations for barcoding:

If the intended use of the barcode fonts is for printing, check the type of data to encode:

If the intended use is a barcode component or label printing application, check the type of data to encode:

About Barcode Accuracy and Misreads

In a study at Ohio University, several different bar code symbologies were tested to determine their accuracy and are listed below. Keep in mind that a well-trained data entry operator will usually make a data entry error once every 300 keystrokes. Therefore, even implementing the least accurate symbology is a huge step forward to increase production and reduce data entry errors. The most inaccurate symbology (UPC) is used in the retail industry.

Barcode Type Worst Case Accuracy Best Case Accuracy
Data Matrix 1 error in 10.5 million 1 error in 612.9 million
PDF417 1 error in 10.5 million 1 error in 612.4 million
Code 128 1 error in 2.8 million 1 error in 37 million
Code 39 1 error in 1.7 million 1 error in 4.5 million
UPC 1 error in 394 thousand 1 error in 800 thousand
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