What is the most efficient barcode to use?

Barcode Information | Tutorials | Examples

The most area efficient barcode symbologies:

There are many situations when the space a barcode occupies is a concern; here are several alpha-numeric barcode types for comparison. These barcodes are all encoding the same data of “BARCODE12345678” with the same narrow bar width or X dimension of .03CM or 10 mils. The barcodes will not appear in actual size until they are printed. The example barcodes may be printed from the Symbology Test Sheet.

Code 39:
Code 39 barcode

Code 128:

The code 128 barcode is more efficient than Code 3 of 9

PDF417 (mode = TEXT):

PDF-417 barcode encoding in text mode

Data Matrix (mode = C40):

The Data-Matrix barcode is one of the most efficient

In the examples above, the Data Matrix is the most compact symbology for the area. A barcode imager is required to read Data Matrix. These imagers read Data Matrix symbols printed with IDAutomation’s Data Matrix Font at 2.5 points which is an X dimension of about .02CM or 8 mils. Data Matrix is also one of the most accurate symbologies (see below).

IDAutomation offers several Data Matrix printing products and components. These include .NET Forms ControlsASP.NET Server ControlsData Matrix Barcode FontsActiveX Control and DLLsImage GeneratorsStreaming Barcode Component for IIS and Java Class Libraries, Applets and Servlets as well as barcode label design and printing software.

About Barcode Accuracy and Misreads

In a study at Ohio University, several different barcode 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, 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 TypeWorst Case AccuracyBest Case Accuracy
 Data Matrix1 error in 10.5 million1 error in 612.9 million
 PDF4171 error in 10.5 million1 error in 612.4 million
 Code 1281 error in 2.8 million1 error in 37 million
 Code 391 error in 1.7 million1 error in 4.5 million
 UPC1 error in 394 thousand1 error in 800 thousand

To reduce the amount of misreads it is important to test scan the barcodes or to verify the barcode with a Bar Code Verifier. IDAutomation offers an easy to use imager and verifier for Postnet, PDF417, Data Matrix and Maxicode that will grade the barcodes with a quality assurance test and report possible problems. The following example shows the output of a barcode scanned, by the IDAutomation imager, that contained errors but was still acceptable and readable:

>>> PQA <<<
DATA MATRIX ECC200: 20 x 20 modules in size
Data Field: 22 data & 18 chks in 1 block(s) of GF(256)
X roughly = 0.034"
[C] < Fixed Patterns: 2 module errors
[A] < Data Safety Margin = 100%
[A] < Horizontal Print Growth = +5% of X
[A] < Vertical Print Growth = -7% of X