2D barcodes such as PDF417 are capable of encoding a great amount of data in a small space, and require only one scan to capture all data elements.  Linear barcodes require separate scans for each symbol on a label and take up much more space.

The diagram below illustrates how PDF417 barcodes are presently being utilized in the ECIA Industry.

PDF417 (2)


PDF417- Size Considerations

The symbol size requirements are defined by the X-dimension of the barcode.  The X-dimension is a measure of the smallest element of the barcode.  For a PDF417 symbol, this is the width of the narrow bars that comprise the symbol.  X-dimensions are commonly displayed in “mils” (thousandths of an inch), inches, or millimeters.

The minimum acceptable X-dimension for PDF417 symbol is 9.5 mils, or 0.0095” (0.241 mm).

The height of the bars must be 3x the X-dimension.  For a 9.5 mil symbol, the bar height must be 28.5 mils.

Quiet Zone

Quiet Zones are the space immediately around a barcode symbol that are free of printing or marks (blank space or white space).


The minimum required Quiet Zone for the PDF417 symbol is equal to the 2x (two times) the X-dimension of the symbol.  So, for a 9.5 mil/0.0095” symbol, a minimum Quiet Zone of 0.19” must be maintained around the top, bottom, left, and right of the symbol.

Error Correction

A minimum error correction level of 3 is recommended.  Error Correction allows for partially damaged barcodes to still be read.


  • UPC (GTIN-12)

  • ISBN/Books

  • Medical/UDI

  • Supply Chain

  • Assets/Inventory

  • Coupon

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There are a variety of different types of barcodes. However, the UPC (Universal Product Number) symbol is the most recognized barcode in the United States, since it appears on almost every retail product. The UPC symbol is the barcode representation of the GTIN-12 which consists of twelve numeric characters that uniquely identify a company’s individual product. The GTIN-12 number is part of the family of GS1 global data structures that employ 14 digits and can be encoded into various types of data carriers.

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A requirement for selling a book through booksellers, wholesalers, and distributors is the assignment of unique ISBN numbers for each title and for each book to be marked with a Bookland EAN barcode.

The Bookland symbol allows for encodation of ISBNs (the numbers publishers use to identify their products). Since an ISBN is unique to one particular title (or product), the corresponding Bookland EAN symbol is a title-specific marking which is unique for that title. For example, if a title is available in hard cover, soft cover and as an e-book, three unique ISBN Bookland EAN bar codes are required.

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The FDA UDI Mandate is part of a comprehensive healthcare traceability initiative to improve patient safety.  The Unique Device Identifier (UDI) requirement is rooted in holding each member of the supply chain responsible for ensuring each medical device is marked with a UDI barcode with data maintained on the FDA’s GUDID universal database.

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Supply Chain

Logistic barcodes such as the GS1-128 Shipping Label are used to track movement of a shipment within a supply chain.  Since suppliers are making shipments to a variety of trading partners it is essential to integrate the relevant standards and current technology.  The use of EDI and 2D barcodes which can encode much more data has transformed many supply chains.

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The first step in designing an asset tracking system is to determine whether you are working with assets or inventory.  Assets are any items a company uses internally such as tools, equipment, furniture etc.  Inventory are items which are sold, distributed or used by a company.  The distinction between Assets and Inventory is essential in regards to how the items will be marked, scanned and stored.

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The successful integration of GS1 DataBar Coupons has dramatically improved many promotions.  The interhent features including; value codes and automatic expiration date checking for retailers, has enabled more efficient redemption, much better security and better metrics to measure the performance of a campaign.

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