"What is a barcode?"
A barcode is simply a machine-readable language. It is letters and numbers put into a form that machines (computers) can easily read. Check out our hardware section for more details about the scanners and other readers available - they range from the size of a pen that links to your computer or EPOS all the way to large readers that are mounted to forklifts in warehouses.
In order for us to be able to understand your data capture / barcoding requirements, please complete our data capture / barcoding questionnaire.
"Aren't there different types of barcodes?"
Yes. There are a number of different types of barcodes, all of which accomplish the same task: converting data into a form that a machine can easily recognise. The different formats are almost like different languages. Just as the word "telephone" is said differently in English, French, German, and Spanish, so too are different barcode motorolas used to represent the same data.
The different languages are called barcode symbologies. Currently, there are more than 22 symbologies, each of which have different capabilities for the amount of information you need to convey about your product. Sometimes, you'll just want to record that 1 tin of beans has left the shop and will need re-ordering. Other times, you may want to record an entire address and the nature of merchandise being dispatched, helping you to track it on a delivery run.
For those of you that like to know the technical terms, some of the symbologies include:
UPC-A/E - EAN - Code 39 - Code 93 - Code 128 - I 2 of 5 - Industrial 2 of 5 - Matrix 2 of 5 - Coda Bar - MSI - Book Land - POSTNET - UCC/EAN 128 - PDF417 - Maxi Code - Data Matrix
"How do I know which type of barcode I need?"
Fortunately, this part of the process is pretty straightforward. Software programs on the market today print almost all of the various barcode formats. It is simply a matter of telling the software which symbology you want the barcodes in, much like you would select a font on a word processing program. If you are producing barcodes for an end user, they will know which barcode symbology they are using. If you are printing labels to scan internally, your software program will recommend one of the symbologies to use.
"Can I create a barcode label with regular print on it?"
Most barode labels have both barcode (machine-readable) and human-readable characters on them. The software program will allow you to print almost anything that you would want on a barcode label. On your computer screen, an image of a blank label will appear, allowing you to create a label. You can then input your address, unit price, description, or any other text you would want to appear on a label. For the barcode itself, you would put in an alpha-numeric code and the software will convert it to a barcode. Many of the software programmes available will also tie into your current database of products, automatically creating a barcode for each item. Easier than you expected?
"What software do I need to create barcodes?"
Some of the entry-level printers already come with software that will print the barcode labels, as mentioned above. Look at the specification of your job to determine whther that particular printer comes with software that will accommodate it, or if one must be purchased at an additional cost. If you are looking at a heavy-duty printer, you will need to purchase additional software. There are a number of software packages that are very good at creating barcodes, as you will discover on our software page.