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Home > Barcode Properties Glossary

Barcode Properties Glossary

The chart below explains a variety of common properties for linear barcode types. Several of these barcode properties are also used for DataBar and 2D barcode types.

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Barcode Properties
Property Name Property Description
Application Identifier An Application Identifier (AI) defines the purpose of the data in the symbol and how it is to be used. An AI is commonly used in GS1 barcodes.
Apply Tilde When set to true in Code 128 Auto and 2D barcode types, the tilde character may be used to encode GS1 Application Identifiers or specific ASCII characters and several additional options are enabled.
Aztec Aztec is a two-dimensional (2D) barcode type that uses square modules with a unique finder pattern in the middle of the symbol, which helps the barcode scanner determine cell locations to decode the symbol.
Back Color The background color of the barcode canvas. This setting should be white or transparent to ensure the scanner can easily decode the symbol.
Bar Height The height of the bars in the barcode, usually measured in centimeters (CM). 2.54 CM equals one inch.
Common values are:

  1 CM = .4 inches
  1.27 CM = .5 inches (commonly used for GS1-128)
  1.905 CM = .75 inches
  2.54 CM = 1 inch
  3.175 CM = 1.25 inches
Barcode Slot Reader Barcode slot readers are devices that look similar to magnetic stripe readers but have the capability to read barcodes.
Barcode Verifier A barcode verifier is a scanning device used to verify a barcode's tolerance and readability on the printed widths of bars and spaces, and contrast between bars and spaces.
Bearer Bars Horizontal and Vertical bearer bars are commonly used in Interleaved 2 of 5 and Code 39 to ensure the scanner does not misread if the scanner aiming beam falls off the barcode before it reaches the beginning or end of the symbol. This is measured as a multiple of the X Dimension. The default value of zero disables this option. Valid values are 0-10, with common values being 5 or 6.
Bull's eye A bull's eye is the center of a target of a Maxicode barcode.
Captions When text appears in the caption property, it is displayed in the margin of the barcode. Using captions increases the barcode size and the space between the barcode image and the caption. When it is desired to have complete control over captions, IDAutomation suggests using a separate field.
CCD Barcode Scanner CCD barcode scanners or readers are durable (because there are no moving parts), low power, maintenance free scanners that read barcodes by taking a linear picture that is quickly decoded.
Character Grouping Determines the number of characters between spaces in the human readable interpretation of the barcode to make text and numbers easier to read. Supported values are 0 (which disables grouping), 3, 4 and 5.
Check Character Automatically adds the check digit to the barcode when true. The check digit is required for all symbologies except Code 39, Interleaved 2 of 5 and Codabar. When using symbologies that do not require the check digit, the check digit may be disabled. The check digit for DataBar and Code 128 is required and therefore cannot be disabled.
Check Character in Text If the "Check Character in Text" or "Add Check Digit to Text" option is true, the check digit that is encoded in the barcode will be appended to the human readable text interpretation that is displayed. This option is not valid for DataBar and Code 128 because their check characters include non-printable values.
Check Reader Check readers can read bank checks encoded with either E-13B fonts or CMC-7 fonts and have a magnetic stripe reader option.
Codabar Codabar is a barcode symbology used for various numeric barcoding applications including libraries, blood banks and parcels.
Codabar Start & Stop Characters Within Codabar, the start and stop characters are A, B, C or D letters. These letters may be used as application identifiers to identify the type of data being encoded.
Code 128 Code 128 is a very high-density barcode symbology. It can encode all 128 characters of ASCII.
Code 128 Set The set of characters to be used in Code 128. Valid values are: Auto, A, B or C. IDAutomation recommends using Auto. Characters in the sets may be viewed in the Code 128 Character Set Chart.
Code 39 Code 39 (Code 3 of 9) is the easiest of the alpha-numeric barcode types to use and only requires start/stop characters.
Code 93 Code 93 is a barcode symbology that creates a higher density barcode; it requires two checksums to be calculated.
Columns (PDF Columns) In the PDF417 barcode type, controls the width or height by setting the number of data columns. When this is left at 0, the product will automatically adjust this setting. Normally, this value is between 5 and 15. The maximum value of 30 is difficult to read by most scanners.
Combo Reader Combo readers are devices that can read both barcode and magnetic stripe media.
Composite Data In DataBar products, this is the composite data to be encoded above the linear barcode. Not applicable when using PDF417 or MicroPDF417.
Data Matrix Data Matrix is a high-density, two-dimensional (2D) symbology that encodes text, numbers, files and actual data bytes.
DataBar GS1 DataBar is the latest barcode type for space-constrained identification from GS1 (Formerly EAN International and the Uniform Code Council, Inc.)
DataToEncode The data that is to be encoded in the barcode. The tilde character may be used in this property for Code 128 and 2D barcode types to encode GS1 Application Identifiers or perform specific functions. Additional data may be included in this property for UPC and EAN barcode types to create 2 and 5 digit add-ons. When using DataBar Expanded, AI's must be entered manually as parentheses to ensure the proper encoding method. Within Maxicode, all data must be entered as one complete string.
DPI Dots per inch (DPI) is a measure of printing resolution.
Dynamic Barcode Generator Service The Dynamic Online Barcode Generator Service is an online service that is hosted and managed by IDAutomation. It dynamically creates high-quality images that are streamed to an application.
EAN-13 (European Article Number) renamed International Article Number is a 13 digit barcoding standard. It is used worldwide for marking products. It produces a 13 digit barcode.
EAN-8 European Article Numbering system EAN-8, which consists of eight (8) digits for small packages.
Encode Encode means to convert data into another form.
Encoding Mode The encoding mode determines how information is encoded in a 2D symbol.
  • ASCII is used to encode data that mainly contains ASCII characters (0-127).
  • Binary is used to encode binary data and bytes of data.
  • BASE256 is used to encode bytes of data or bits of data in 8 bit increments.
  • C40 is used to encode data that mainly contains numeric and upper case characters similar to the Code-39 character set.
  • TEXT is used to encode data that mainly contains numeric and lowercase characters.
  • MaxiCode modes 2-6 specify the carrier type and error correction level.
Error Correction Level (EC) The Reed Solomon error correction level placed in the symbol. More error correction creates a larger symbol that can withstand more damage. Within PDF417, the error correction level should be increased with the amount of data encoded.
Fit Control to Barcode Automatically sizes the control canvas to fit the barcode.
FNC1 FNC1 is the single character Function Code 1, which specifies that a Code 128 barcode is a GS1-128 code.
Font Used to change the font name and point size of the text interpretation or human readable text.
Font Encoder A font encoder (tool) is an add-in, plug-in, or stand-alone tool designed to format data for a barcode. Data formatting may include adding start/stop characters and/or calculating a check character.
Fore Color The color of the foreground text and bars in the barcode. The default of black should be used to ensure the scanner can easily decode the symbol.
GS1-128 GS1-128 (previously known as UCC-128 and EAN-128) is defined by GS1 and used to create several types of barcode symbols that include Application Identifiers.
Human Readable Human Readable is the data representation of the barcode. It usually appears underneath the barcode.
Include AI in Text In DataBar products, determines if the implied GS1 Application Identifier (AI) is displayed in the human readable text. All DataBar barcodes contain an implied AI of (01) with the exception of DataBar Expanded.
Include Linkage Flag in Text In DataBar products, determines if the Linkage Flag for the barcode should be displayed in the human readable text. This linkage flag determines if there is a 2D composite barcode to accompany the linear DataBar barcode.
Intelligent Mail Intelligent Mail is a barcode type coined by the United Stated Postal Service (USPS) that is used to track and sort letters and flat packages.
Interleaved 2 of 5 Interleaved 2 of 5 (ITF, I2of5) is a numeric only barcode used to encode pairs of numbers. Every two digits are interleaved with each other to create a single symbol
Is Composite In DataBar products, determines if a composite symbol is linked to the linear DataBar barcode by changing the value of the linkage flag.
ISBN ISBN (International Standard Book Number) system is used to automate ordering and inventory systems for book publishers, distributors and retailers.
ISBT ISBT 128 barcode symbology is an international standard based on the Code 128 Barcode for the transfer of information associated with blood transfusion, cellular therapy and tissue transplantation
Keyboard Wedge A keyboard wedge cable is a Y-cable PS/2 connection where both the scanner and computer keyboard can be used simultaneously while pulling power from the computer to run the scanner.
Laser Scanner Laser barcode scanners (compared to CCD scanners) are capable of reading longer and smaller density barcodes, as well as increased scanning distances.
Left Margin This property adds space to the left margin and when necessary, also adds the same space to the right margin. This property is usually measured in centimeters (CM). Common values are 0.06, 0.1 and 0.2 CM.
Macro PDF Macro PDF properties allow large amounts of data to be stored in multiple PDF-417 symbols.
Maxicode Maxicode is a 2D (two-dimensional) barcode that is currently used by UPS on shipping labels for world-wide addressing and package sortation.
Micro PDF MicroPDF417 is a two-dimensional (2D), multi-row symbology, derived from PDF417 that encodes up to 150 bytes.
MILS X Dimension in MILS is the width in mils (1/1000 of an inch) of the narrow bars.
Mod 10 A Mod10 may be required when implementing GS1-128 barcodes for various specifications; the AI is usually not included in the MOD 10 calculation.
Mod 103 Mod 103 is a mandatory check digit for Code 128 barcodes. It is not displayed in human readable form because some of the values are high ASCII characters that cannot be entered from the keyboard.
Mod 43 Mod 43 is a checksum value produced by Code 39.
MSR Magnetic stripe readers (also referred to as MSRs) read drivers licenses, credit cards and other information encoded in the magnetic strips contained in the card.
Narrow Bar Width The X Dimension of the barcode symbol that determines the width of the narrowest bar.
Narrow to Wide Ratio Also known as the N Dimension, it is the difference between narrow and wide bars of symbologies that only contain narrow and wide bars such as Code 39, Interleaved 2 of 5 and MSI. Common values are 2, 2.5, 2.75 and 3.
Native Encoder Native Encoder means that the code or the tool used to format the data for the barcode is native to the application or environment. For example, Excel can use VBA code. The Native Encoder is written in VBA and can be imported directly into Excel.
PCL Printer Command Language (PCL) fonts are printer fonts that install on PCL compatible printers.
Portable Memory Scanner Portable memory scanners are easy to carry portable units that can capture and store barcodes data and information.
PostNet Postal Numeric Encoding Technique is a barcode symbology that is used by the USPS to assist in directing mail. It is generally encoded as the Zip Code, Zip +4, or Zip +4 along with the Delivery Point.
PQA Print quality assessment (PQA) is a unique feature in some scanners that verifies and grades several attributes of the barcode symbol.
Preferred Format Within Data Matrix, set the preferred format as represented by a number. Valid values are (-1 for automatic) and from 0 (10X10) to 23 (144X144) and from 24 (8X18) to 29 (16X48). This will be automatically increased if the size of the symbol chosen is too small.
Quiet Zone A quiet zone is the blank area on either size of a barcode that is used to tell the barcode scanner where the barcode begins and ends.
Reed Solomon Reed Solomon is an error correction that allows the symbol to endure some damage without causing loss of data.
Resolution The source that is used to determine the resolution the image is drawn to, which creates a more accurate barcode. Default is set to printer. If the custom option is selected, the number residing in the Resolution Custom DPI property will determine the resolution.
Rotation Angle Indicates the orientation of the barcode. Valid values are 0, 90, 180 and 270.
Rows (PDF417) The number of minimum rows in a PDF417 symbol. If this setting is 0, the product will automatically adjust this setting. This setting should be 0 because the number of rows should be automatically generated.
SC1500 Barcode Scanner IDAutomation Linear Barcode Scanner capable of scanning linear and DataBar barcodes.
SC5 Barcode Scanner See SC1500 Barcode Scanner.
SC7 Barcode Scanner IDAutomation 2D Barcode Scanner capable of scanning Linear and 2D barcodes; it also has a PQA feature.
Segments The segments property applies only to DataBar Expanded and is changed to a low even number such as 4 or 6 to create a stacked symbol.
Show Text When enabled, the human readable text interpretation will be displayed with the barcode.
Show Text Location Determines if the human readable text is placed above or below the barcode.
Supp Separation The distance between the end of the barcode and the beginning of the supplement for UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN-13 and EAN-8 symbologies.
Symbology A symbology is a protocol for arranging the bars and spaces that make up a particular kind of barcode, such as Code 128, Code 39, etc.
Symbology ID The symbology or barcode type to be used. To obtain more information about barcode types, visit the barcoding for beginners' site.
Text Margin Sets the distance between the symbol and the human readable text interpretation, usually measured in centimeters.
Top Margin This property adds space to the top margin and when necessary, also adds the same space to the bottom margin. This property is usually measured in centimeters (CM). Common values are 0.03, 0.06 and 0.1 CM.
TrueType Font TrueType is the most common font technology for everyday use.
Truncated In PDF417, creates a truncated symbol according to the ISO specification.
UFL User function library (UFL) is a DLL that is integrated into Crystal Reports. The IDAutomation UFL is designed to encode data.
Universal Barcode Font A Universal barcode font is a single barcode font that can create multiple barcode types. Its unique encoding allows cross-platform support between Unix, Linux, Macintosh and Windows® systems.
UPC Universal Product Code (UPC) is a barcode symbology that is widely used in the United States and Canada for tracking trade items in stores.
UPC-E System The encoding system to be used in UPC-E; valid values are 0, 1 and Auto.
White Bar Increase A decimal percentage value that increases the white space between bars to improve readability for printers that print darker than normal. For example, a value of 0.20 increases the white space by 20%. Common values are .10, .15, .20 and .25. A decimal value must be entered to enable this feature.
X Dimension The width of the narrowest bars in the barcode, which all other bars are built on. In most products, this is measured in centimeters (CM). X Dimension MILS is a similar property, which is specified in 1/1000 of an inch increments. The most common value is .03 CM or 12 MILS. The X dimension should be increased if the barcode scanner being used does not dependably decode the symbol. When X Dimension CM and X Dimension MILS are both present, setting one will override the value of the other property.

When using Intelligent Mail, Postnet or Planet barcode types, the X Dimension of .05 cm or 20 MILS should be used to achieve a width of between 22 and 24 bars per inch.

Conversion Table:
Inches MILs CM
.004 4 .01
.006 6 .015
.008 8 .02
.010 10 .025
.012 12 .03
.014 14 .035
.016 16 .04
.02 20 .05
.04 40 .1
X to Y Ratio The height multiple of bars in a stacked barcode, which is usually 2 to 5 times the X Dimension. The default value of 3 is most common.

Outdated Properties

Property Name

Property Description

Resolution Printer to Use The property was used to get the resolution for the images based off a specific printer in the printer list. This allows printing to a printer that is not the default. This property is no longer necessary when using the current method of printing.

Invalid printer names passed into this function will be ignored. A developer may retrieve the list of valid printer name string values by checking the installed printer's collection. The following C# code snippet loops through all installed printers on a machine and writes the names of the printers to the console: foreach(string pkInstalledPrinters in PrinterSettings.InstalledPrinters)
{Console.Write("Installed printer name is " + pkInstalledPrinters + (char)10);}

Verifying Barcodes

Linear and DataBar barcodes may be read with the IDAutomation USB Barcode Scanner. 2D symbols may be read with a 2D Imager such as IDAutomation 2D Barcode Scanner with print quality assessment.
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