Barcode Types & Symbologies

Over the past few decades several hundred different barcode types have been invented, many of which are long forgotten. Today, around 20 to 30 different symbologies are in use worldwide; the screenshot shows the most important types (click for full size):

Screenshot of important barcode types

Download the sample sheet: AI (Adobe Illustrator 2020 or higher) • PDF.

See the following sections for an overview of the most common barcode symbologies. Barcode types can be categorized by form, e.g. linear or 2D, or by application, e.g. warehousing, retail etc.

Barcodes for Retail

Code EAN and Code UPC are the predominant barcodes used in retail. Both barcode types come in several variations:

Code EAN

Code EAN 8
Code EAN 13
Code EAN 13 with add-on
Code ISBN 10, ISBN 13

Code UPC

Code UPC-E
Code UPC-A
Code UPC-A with add-on

Barcodes for Warehousing

Several code types are used for warehousing, depending on the respective application and the amount and type of data that is to be encoded.

Code 2/5 (read: two of five)

Code 2/5 Standard (aka. Industrial)
Code 2/5 Interleaved
Code ITF 14

Barcodes for Phamaceutical Applications

Code PZN (Pharmazentralnummer)
Code Laetus

Alphanumeric Barcodes

Alphanumeric barcodes encode numbers, letters and special characters like exclamation marks, currency symbols etc.

Code 39

Code 39 Code 39 Extended, Full ASCII

Code 128

Code 128 A, B, C
Code 128 EAN / UCC / GS1

Other Barcode Applications

Other notable applictions for barcodes includes IDs (e.g. passports or driver's licenses), encoding of web adresses (URLs), postal or freight applications. Usually 2D or area barcodes are used if a huge amount of data has to be encoded.

2D Barcode Symbologies

QR Quick Response (cellphone barcode)

Creating Barcodes in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop

Easy to use barcode plug-ins and extensions for Adobe InDesign, Illustrator und Photoshop. Standards compliant barcodes in seconds - no dependencies, no programming or macros, no barcode fonts required. The extensions are built on the new Softmatic unified JS barcode engine that works across all operating systems and environments and supports all common barcode symbologies and types.

For more videos, see the Softmatic Youtube Channel

The Softmatic barcode plug-ins and extensions for InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop are available from the Softmatic store.

For more barcode software, see our Products page.