Barcode Software: What You Need to Know

Barcode software must support multiple barcode symbologies and standards, such as the ones shown on this medical device label.

Regardless of the type of barcode, the basic concept of barcode software is the same:

  • Information is mapped to an arrangement of (usually black and white) bars, squares or dots.
  • Printed barcodes are scanned to retrieve the encoded information quickly and accurately.
  • Barcode labeling increases efficiency and reduces costly errors.

Barcode software is a relatively recent development, yet barcodes are now such a familiar part of everyday life that it is almost difficult to remember a time without them. Today, almost every product you buy, almost every package you receive, has a barcode—whether it’s a familiar one-dimensional (1D) barcode with alternating black and white bars, or a more recent two-dimensional (2D) barcodes such as a QR code.

Barcode labeling has obvious advantages in a business setting: It increases efficiency, reduces costs and errors, and helps meet regulatory requirements. But these benefits are only achieved if the barcode software used to create those barcodes can be trusted to encode the required information quickly and correctly and print it consistently and accurately. It’s not enough to use an online barcode generator.

Barcode software with unparalleled symbology support

BarTender® software by Seagull Scientific offers more than 400 preformatted, ready-to-use barcode components based on 95 barcode symbologies and more than a dozen barcode standards, including:

Linear barcodes 

linear symbology is a single row of bars and spaces. The elements can vary either by width (such as EAN-8) or by height (such as Royal Mail 4-State).

EAN-8 barcode

Royal Mail 4-State barcode
Royal Mail 4-State

  • Codabar
  • Code 39 (Full ASCII and Regular)
  • Code 93
  • Code 128
  • EAN-8
  • EAN-13 (with and without 2 and 5 digit add-ons)
  • GS1-128
  • GS1 DataBar (formerly RSS, all four non-stacked variants)
  • Interleaved 2-of-5
  • ITF-14
  • JAN-8
  • JAN-13 (with and without 2 and 5 digit add-ons)
  • MSI Plessey
  • RSS (see GS1 DataBar)
  • Telepen
  • Trioptic
  • UPC-A (with and without 2 and 5 digit add-ons)
  • UPC-E (with and without 2 and 5 digit add-ons)

2D, matrix, and stacked symbols 

A 2-D stacked symbology contains multiple rows of bars and spaces. In some 2-D stacked symbologies, separator areas exist between multiple data rows (such as GS1 Databar Expanded Stacked). Other 2-D stacked symbologies contain no separator areas (such as PDF417).

GS1 DataBar Expanded Stacked barcode
GS1 DataBar Expanded Stacked

PDF417 barcode

A 2-D matrix symbology has a two-dimensional pattern of elements that doesn't necessarily have a row-by-row structure. Typically, the elements are squares or dots rather than bars. In Aztec Code, the data is written in a spiral outward. 

Aztec Code barcode
Aztec Code

  • Aztec Code
  • Data Matrix
  • GS1 Composite (13 variants)
  • GS1 DataBar (formerly RSS 3 stacked variants)
  • GS1 DataMatrix
  • GS1 QR
  • MaxiCode
  • Micro QR Code
  • MicroPDF417
  • PDF417
  • QR Code
  • RSS (see GS1 DataBar)
  • iQR

Postal and shipping barcodes

  • Australia Post
  • Canadian Customs
  • Japanese Post
  • KIX Code
  • Royal Mail
  • UPS MaxiCode
  • USPS Intelligent Mail
  • USPS Planet
  • USPS Postnet

Barcode standards 

  • GS1 Coupons
  • GS1 Distribution
  • GS1 General Applications
  • GS1 Health Care – Non-retail
  • GS1 Health Care – Retail
  • GS1 Pharmaceutical
  • GS1 Retail – General Distribution
  • GS1 Retail – Non-general Distribution
  • HIBC (Primary and Secondary)
  • ISBT
  • TLC (39 and MicroPDF417)
  • DUN
  • UPS Tracking Number
  • Design barcodes for almost any other standard using BarTender.

Label standards 

  • AIAG
  • Caterpillar
  • DoD
  • GHS
  • GM 1724-A
  • HIBC
  • MIL 129 and 1189B (LOGMARS)
  • Oracle WMS
  • Sears
  • Wal-Mart
  • SSCC
  • TLC
  • UPS
  • USPS (includes FIM A and FIM C).
  • You can also design labels for almost any other standard using BarTender.

Data format standards 

Encode text using almost any data format, including Unicode, ASCII, Western, Japanese, Chinese, or any other character encoding, plus custom formats. Predefined barcode components also support the following standards:

  • GTIN-8 (for EAN-8, JAN-8, and UPC-E components)
  • GTIN-12 (for UPC-A components)
  • GTIN-13 (for EAN-13 and JAN-13 components)
  • GTIN-14 (formerly EAN-14 and SCC-14; for GS1 components that use the (01) application identifier, for GS1 DataBar components, and for ITF-14 components)
  • SCC-18 (for GS1 barcode components that use the (00) application identifier)

Barcode software: BarTender is the world's most trusted

BarTender is the most trusted software for designing and printing barcode labels, with hundreds of thousands of users worldwide.

Learn more about BarTender barcode software, or download the fully functional Trial Edition to see for yourself how BarTender makes barcode label printing and design easy for more companies around the world than any other software.

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Our Customers Say

"BarTender’s ability to integrate with any ERP and Safety Data Sheet authoring and management system, coupled with its easy-to-use and powerful Intelligent Templates™, has made it our go-to software product for integrating and solving the challenges associated with GHS compliance labeling in all of our chemical customers."

—Rick Schilling, President, Integrated Productivity Systems (IPSi)