What is a Barcode? – Definition, Function and Advantages

Definition Barcode

A barcode is a method in which data represents in the form of machine-readable visuals. In the beginning, barcodes represent data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines. Nowadays, these barcodes refer as linear or one-dimensional. They can be scanned by special optical scanners, called barcode readers.

A barcode is a rectangular or square image, formed by a series of parallel lines and white spaces with a variable width that can have numerical digits at the bottom. The numerical digits at the bottom allow us to scan it. It is an essential element for products to be in supermarkets and stores.

The [GS1 barcode] unifies the denomination given to an item throughout the Securities Network. In addition to this, it facilitates the interoperability of its use with those of its suppliers or customers. It allows them to process without errors in their information, benefiting the consumer by facilitating payment for sales points.

How does barcode work?

In a [barcode], the series of bars and spaces of different thicknesses gets printed in a specific ratio. The resulting barcode symbologies form nothing more than alphabet sentences. With varying widths of line and their arrangement, characters develop, and messages generate. Due to the diverse arrangement options, many symbologies are possible.

Another important component when reading barcodes is their “X” dimension. The X dimension determines the density of the barcode. It describes the amount of information that records in a specific area of ​​the barcode.

Also, a start and end character define for each barcode so that we can read it from right to left and left to right. For a [barcode] to get correctly interpreted by the barcode scanner, a free area of ​​at least ¼ inch has to be kept before the start and end characters. The so-called “quiet zone.”


Bar codes and the standard GS1 identification system through numbers and bars are currently a tool for logistics and trade operations with the business partners, whether they are suppliers or customers. The [barcode] was developed by Norman Joseph Woodland when he drew a series of lines in the sand to create a morse code. NRC was the first company to develop a barcode scanner and for which it received the patent in 1966. The first item scanned was a package of Wrigley tires at the Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio, in June 1974.

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Kamran Sharief

I write about technology, marketing and digital tips. In the past I've worked with Field Engineer, Marcom Arabia and You can reach me at

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Kamran Sharief

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