How to Choose The Right Barcode

by Maverick Label | January 05, 2023

Barcodes can be an extremely important part of your label- from asset tags to product labels, variable and static barcodes are used in a variety of ways to collect data, track assets, and market products. So how do you determine which barcode format is the right one for you?  

Fixed Versus Variable?  

The first main aspect of a barcode is if it is fixed or variable. A fixed, or static, barcode is printed without variable or sequential information. Each barcode label, and the value it represents, is identical. A common type of fixed barcode is a UPC barcode on a product label.  

Variable, or consecutive barcodes are printed with a different barcode on each label. Values represented may be sequential from one label to the next, or they may be drawn from a database of values. A common type of variable barcode is a Code 39 barcode for asset tags.

Most Common Types of Barcodes 

Code 39

Code 39  
The Code 39 Barcode is the most popular, general-purpose barcode that can be read by virtually any barcode reader. It’s similar to but not as compact as the Code 128 barcode and is used extensively for asset tagging.  The name comes from the fact that originally it was able to encode only 39 characters; that has since increased to 43. The characters supported by this barcode type are uppercase alphanumeric (including some special characters). 


Maverick products that support Code 39:

Code 128  
These compact, high-density barcodes are used for applications that require larger sets of numbers. Often used for supply chain applications and asset management, Code 128 barcodes can support any character in the ASCII 128. 

Code 128

 Maverick products that support Code 128:

UPC barcode

UPC Barcodes 

Universal Product Code barcodes are required for all retail products and are mainly used in the United States. The UPC-A encodes 12 numeric digits, while the UPC-E codes are compressed UPC codes used primarily for retail products that have packaging and labeling space constraints. The characters supported by this barcode type are numeric only. 

 Maverick products that support UC Barcodes:

EAN Barcodes 

Similar to UPC barcodes, EAN barcodes are required for all retail products, but are primarily used in Europe. The EAN-13 encodes 13 numeric digits, while the EAN-8 codes are compressed versions for small products with packaging and labeling space constraints. ISBNs are unique numeric book identifiers. The characters supported by this barcode type are numeric only.

 Maverick products that support EAN Barcodes:

QR code

QR Codes 

QR codes are a type of 2D matrix barcode that provide easy access to information through a smartphone, not a laser scanner. These 2D codes have a high fault tolerance, are flexible in size and orientation, and are in the public domain. You can also incorporate color into their design.

As a result, they're great for applications with a strong consumer focus, including product labels, business cards, menus, or marketing purposes. All characters are supported with QR codes.  


  Maverick products that support QR codes: 

Interleaved 2 of 5  

Interleaved 2 of 5, or ITF, barcodes are often used around the globe for labeling packaging materials, because it can handle high-printing tolerances required for use on corrugated cardboard.

Because of the imprecise nature of printing on cardboard, ITF barcodes are often printed with a black border, also known as a bearer bar for scanner readability.

This type of barcode supports numeric characters only. 

Which Barcode is the Right Type for You?

In order to choose the right type of barcode for your label, you need to think about your product and its intended purpose. 

Are you going to be purchasing asset tags for the purpose of tracking inventory? Then the standard Code 39 barcode might be the right choice for you.  

Are you getting product labels for specialty salsa that will be sold in grocery stores across the US? Then you need to make sure you have a UPC barcode incorporated into your labels.  

Are you creating custom stickers for your restaurant? You might want to include a QR code linking to your menu so potential diners can check out your offerings. 

Still not sure which code is right for you? Reach out to us! We can help point you in the right direction and determine the best barcode formats for your label.

Barcode Label FAQ 

How to get barcodes for your products? 

This is a common question we get asked often. The safest way to obtain UPC barcodes is through GS1 US®, a not-for-profit company that is the global issuer of barcodes. You must first register and then you can apply for a GS1 company prefix, that will be included as part of your barcode. For complete instructions and to apply, visit the GS1 US® website

What Type of Barcodes Go on Asset Tags? 

The most common barcode type that we see on asset tags is Code 39, but you can also have code 128 or even QR codes on your asset tags. With our wide range of materials you can also get metal barcodes or anti-theft barcode stickers. 

Are there extra charges to add a barcode to a label?  

To include a UPC barcode in your product label simply include it in your art file or label design and we will print it exactly to your specifications.

 Many of our asset tag designs include free barcode and sequential numbering. You can also include QR codes on our asset tags!  

For sequential numbering or data merging on certain products like equipment labels or control panels, there is an extra cost associated with that process. You can explore pricing options in any of our product quoters.  

For more info on barcode labels that Maverick Label offers, visit our barcode labels page! And if you need to speak with a label exeprt, feel free to reach out to us