Barcode Numbering Explained – Barcode Number Meanings and How They Work


The barcode’s first appearance was in an Ohio supermarket in the mid-70s. Those little black and white stripes went on to change the world.

It’s almost inconceivable to think of a world without them. Every trip to a retailer involves scanning one.

Their applications extend beyond retail. They’re used to reduce the number of errors in the medical field and are even used in mobile gaming.

Curious about how they work and what all the numbers and lines mean? Let’s learn about the interesting world of barcode numbering.

Barcode Basics

The first barcode was actually just a few lines in the sand. Norman Joseph Woodland was thinking of Morse code when he absentmindedly trailed his fingers on the beach.

He wanted a way to encode information easily. From Morse code, they adapted the parallel bars to hold different kinds of information.

Two Types of Barcodes

Barcodes come in one of two types: one dimensional and two dimensional. They’re usually referred to as 1D and 2D respectively.

1D are what most people think of when they think of barcodes. They’re a series of black and white lines that contain basic information about the goods that they’re printed on.

2D holds more information. They can tell your computer about the price, quantity, and more about the products.

Adding a UPC

Adding a UPC, or Universal Product Code, to an item adds even more information to a standard barcode. Standard UPCs have five numbers that identify the manufacturer, the product itself, and then one number at the start with specific information.

At the beginning of a UPC code, that one number can tell you a lot about the item. For example:

  • numbers 0, 1, 6, 7 and 8 are for everyday, regular items
  • number 2 is used for items measured by weight
  • 3 is used for medical items
  • 4 is used for non-food items
  • coupons use numbers 5 and 9

Scanning the series of bars, spaces, and numbers translates it into text that your computer can read. Keep reading to learn more about how businesses have benefited from this simple black and white label and — how you can make your own.

Barcode Numbering Benefits

It’s hard to imagine selling anything without a barcode. Here’s how they’ve changed businesses for the better:

  • Inventory: know where things are and how many are available
  • Training: less time is needed to train employees on POS equipment
  • Precision: barcodes are more precise than manual data entry
  • Easy and Cost-effective: barcodes are easy and cheap to create and use

Looking to generate quick and easy barcodes? There are several programs, like a c# barcode generator, that you can use to make them for your business. 

Barcodes and Other Business Tech

With just a few numbers and lines, barcode numbering has changed the world. Barcodes are packed with information that smooths out many processes, from ordering books, to purchasing groceries, to distributing medicine.

Now that you know everything about them, what else do you want to learn about? Our blog has tons of new tech advice and business information you need to know to succeed — keep clicking!



James Williams
James is our Lead Content Publisher here at Feeds Portal. He has worked with many top websites over the years, including BuzzFeed.

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