The Global Language of Business
The Global Language of Business
Capture identity and more in a barcode or RFID tag
GS1 Barcodes
Barcodes are technical symbols for automatic data capture that are placed on products or their packaging, connecting the physical world with electronic information.
Depending on the symbol used, they can encode only the product identification number or the identification number with additional data such as serial number, date, etc.
Barcodes play a key role in supply chains, allowing industry to automatically identify and track products as they move through the chain.
Different types of barcode are used depending on the business needs.
Linear barcodes.
The EAN-13 symbol is the most common of all GS1 symbols. Encodes a GTIN-13 number.
Example: Marking of products that pass through the cash register, incl. newspapers, magazines, etc.
The EAN-8 symbol encodes the GTIN-8 number. It is primarily intended for marking small commercial units. GTIN-8 numbers are issued by GS1 National Organizations.
Example: Marking of products that pass through the cash register, e.g. cosmetics.
The UPC-A symbol encodes a GTIN-12 (Universal Product Code/UPC) number.
Example: Marking products that are scanned at the point of sale. (used more intensively in USA and Canada).
The UPC-E symbol is more specific and also encodes a GTIN-12. Eight digits of the number are represented by a zero suppression algorithm.
Example: Marking of small sized products, e.g. cosmetics, cigarettes, chewing gum.
Note: Barcode height is rounded
The symbol ITF-14 (2 of 5 with overlap) is intended to encode identification numbers of commercial units that do not pass through the points of sale. This symbol is more suitable for direct printing on cartons.
Example: Used in standard group packs, e.g. box of 24 tubes of hair shampoo.
GS1 DataBar
The GS1 DataBar barcode family is used to mark small products or to encode more information than the previously used EAN/UPC symbols. The GS1 DataBar enables identification with the Global Trade Unit Number (GTIN) of hard-to-mark products such as jewelery and cosmetics, and with the help of application identifiers, additional information such as serial number, batch number, expiry date can be encoded, which makes preferred in the fresh food sector. Family symbols can now be used to tag variable weight fresh goods with a GTIN, and for coupons.
A GS1-128 symbol is of variable length, depending on the number and type of characters encoded and the thickness of the thinnest stroke (the X-dimension that determines the overall size of the symbol). For a given series of data, the character size varies within certain limits to fit the quality range achieved by different printing technologies. The symbol is designed to be read in both directions by stationary or portable scanners.
Based on their nominal dimensions (X-dimension: 1 mm), GS1-128 characters can be printed with a magnification factor of 25% to 100%. To ensure efficient readout in any environment, including conveyor scanning, a magnification factor of at least 50% should be used. GS1-128 symbols are not intended for scanning cash registers in retail locations
Two-dimensional barcodes /2D barcodes/
2D barcodes use patterns of squares, hexagons, dots, and other shapes to encode data. Because the data is encoded in a two-dimensional pattern, 2D barcodes can hold more data than 1D barcodes while appearing physically smaller.
GS1 Data Matrix
When encoding the information in the GS1 Data Matrix, the concept of GS1 Application Identifiers is used, and first a function character FNC 1 is encoded, analogous to a GS1-128 symbol. At this stage in Bulgaria, the symbol is used to mark medicines that pass through POS terminals (points of sale) in pharmacies.
Data Matrix scanning requires two-dimensional scanners and barcode readers working on the principle of a digital camera. The main advantage of Data Matrix is that it allows recording a large capacity of data on a small area – up to 3116 digital or 2335 alphanumeric characters. The barcode can be square, with the number of lines in the symbol equal to the number of columns, or rectangular with a limited capacity of encoded characters to 98 digits for the largest symbol.
QR code
A QR code is a two-dimensional square barcode that can encode up to 4296 characters. It is designed to be read by specific scanners and smartphone apps. Provides an advanced labeling option, such as a URL with a product’s GTIN.
EPC/RFID Radio frequency identification
The Electronic Product Code™ (EPC) is a syntax for unique identifiers assigned to physical objects, units of cargo, locations, or other identifiable entity that plays a role in business operations.
As with barcodes, there are different RFID tags. Active and passive tags, NFC, UHF, HF, LF, which meet different needs and requirements. The GS1 standards are focused on UHF and HF passive RFID tags. The most widely applied in our industries are passive UHF tags, also known as RAIN RFID tags.
GS1’s EPC Tag Data Standard (TDS) defines the format of EPC data and provides encoding for numbering schemes — including GS1 identification numbers — within the EPC.
RFID identification can be used to increase supply chain visibility and on-hand inventory checks.

For more information and assistance on generating and verifying barcode symbols.