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FAQ | Barcodes | Magnetic Stripes

Bar Code Information

Self-Service Bar-coding
We automatically encode barcodes with the appropriate start/stop characters and checksums (if required) so you don't have to worry about this. However, we don't do exhaustive error checking on the values you enter for the barcode field. It may be possible that you enter values that don't get included into the generated barcode. For example, Codabar only uses digits so if you enter letters within the barcode value, they will not be encoded into the barcode symbol but will be ignored. However, if you read this FAQ, you'll know exactly what rules to follow for creating good barcodes on your custom cards!

We provide 5 of the most popular barcode symbologies available to you for your cards. There are many affordable laser and CCD barcode scanners (and badge slot readers) available today with built-in encoders that support all of the symbologies that we provide. The "keyboard wedge" style scanners plug in between your keyboard and computer. The wedge reader decodes the barcode, converts it to text, and sends the string of characters to the current application as though it was typed on the keyboard. Since your computer thinks that the data came from the keyboard, nearly any application can receive input from a barcode wedge reader.

Perhaps the trickiest thing about using barcodes is deciding which symbology to use. In general, if you are creating a new system, we recommend you choose the Bar Code 128 symbology because it provides the most flexibility. It is dense (holds more data in a smaller space) and can encode the full ASCII character set (letters, digits, and punctuation). If you're using a legacy system, you may need to do some research to determine which symbology to use for your cards.

Following is an explanation of the barcode symbologies we provide in our online card designer:

Bar Code 2 of 5 Interleaved
Bar Code 3 of 9
Bar Code 93
Bar Code 128
Codabar

Bar Code 2 of 5 Interleaved

Bar Code 2 of 5 Interleaved is a high density numeric bar code. It can only encode pairs of numbers, (the bar code must have an even number of digits). Each bar code pattern encodes the odd digit in the pattern of bars, and the even digit in the pattern of spaces between bars. Odd number of digits are padded to the left with a zero. Bar codes can be of variable length and don't normally use a checksum, although a modulo 10 check character is used in some special situations. Partial scans are possible, since bar code 2 of 5 interleaved is not self checking, so fixed length data fields are often used to circumvent this problem.

Site Notes

  • Acceptable characters: 0-9
  • Non-digits are ignored and are not encoded into the barcode.
  • We automatically encode the barcode with a prefixed zero for an odd number of digits.
  • We don't add a checksum since it isn't required by most encoders.
  • We automatically add the { and } start and stop characters to the barcode.
Bar Code 3 of 9

Bar Code 3 of 9 is a self checking, medium density alpha-numeric bar code. It was the first alpha-numeric bar code to be developed and is the most widely used bar code. Bar code 3 of 9 is surrounded with a start/stop code character (the *). It is typically used in a non-retail environment. The standard version can only encode 43 characters: A-Z, 0-9, space, and -.$/+%. A Full ASCII version is available, provided your bar code reader supports it, and can encode the entire ASCII character set, at the cost of print density. Bar codes can be of variable length and don't normally use a checksum. A few industries use an optional modulo 43 checksum.

Site Notes

  • Acceptable characters: A-Z, 0-9, space, and -.$/+%.
  • Since bar code 3 of 9 does not support lower case characters, we automatically map these characters to their upper case equivalents.
  • We automatically add the stop and start characters "*" to the barcode.
Bar Code 93

Bar Code 93 was introduced in 1982 and was designed to complement bar code 3 of 9. Generally, bar codes 3 of 9 and 93 can be mixed together and automatically read. Bar code 93 is a high density alpha-numeric bar code that also supports a Full ASCII version without the ambiguity that 3 of 9 has. The standard version can encode 47 characters: A-Z, 0-9, plus "-", ".", " ", "$", "/", "+", "%", and 4 special characters for Full ASCII mode.

Site Notes

  • Acceptable characters: A-Z, 0-9, space, and -.$/+% plus full ASCII
  • We automatically calculate checksums and add start and stop characters to the encoded barcode

     

  • Bar Code 128

    Bar Code 128 is a high density alpha-numeric bar code. It has 106 different characters and three subsets: A, B, & C, which are just different ways of interpreting the data encoded by the bar code. UCC / EAN 128 is another variation of subset C. When you use a subset A or B start code you can encode the entire ASCII character set, including control codes. With a subset C start code you encode high density numeric data in much the same way that interleaved bar code 2 of 5 works. Bar code 128 requires a checksum. Bar codes can be of variable length, although subset C requires an even number of digits.

    Subset A is used to print upper case letters, numbers, and the standard ASCII control characters. Subset B is used to print upper and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation. Subset C encodes pairs of numbers 00 through 99. The UCC/EAN option adds an FNC1 character after the start codes for subsets A, B, and C to uniquely identify that bar code as a shipping code.

    Site Notes

    • We encode subset B (upper and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation).
    • We automatically calculate and encode the start, stop, and checksum characters into the barcode.
    Codabar

    Codabar was developed in 1972 and is used in labeling air parcels, blood packages, and libraries. Codabar is a low density numeric bar code. It covers 16 characters: 0-9, plus "-", ".", ":", "$", "/", and "+". There are 4 separate start and stop characters, which allows useful information to be encoded by characters that are normally considered overhead. Bar codes can be of variable length and do not require a checksum.

    Site Notes

    • Acceptable characters: 0-9, plus -.:$/+
    • Invalid characters are ignored.
    • We use A for the start character and B for the stop character.

     

     

     

     
    Questions? Send a message to service@djlsystems.com

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