Guide to Barcode Symbologies

Code 39 or Code 3 of 9


Example of Code 39 Full

Code 39 Full

Example of Code 39 Regular

Code 39 Regular


Also known as Code 3 of 9, is most popular (excluding retail) barcode type used today. It is commonly in use for everything from ID badges to inventory management / identification by both industry and government. A discrete, self-checking, variable length, alphanumeric format that is widely in use by automakers, pharmaceutical industries, US government, even the US Department of Defense. If required, a longer Code 39 bar codes can be split up into small barcodes and then strung together (concatenated) to make the scanning easy.

Code 39 is available in two slightly different forms, Full ASCII and Regular. The one you choose can depend largely on the industry you using them for and if you will need to use the control characters or lowercase characters.

Full ASCII Code 39 will encode the full 128 ASCII character set. Of course this extra capability means reduced data density due to these additional characters requiring twice the space to encode as those covered by Regular Code 39.

Reg. Code 39 the densest of all self-checking alpha numeric formats, currently used by the Department of Defense and The HIBCC (Health Industry Bar Code Council). This format encodes only uppercase ASCII characters, numbers 0 to 9, and special characters -.*&/+% . Reg. Code 39 can be recognized through these industry organizations: HIBC – Health Industry Bar Code Council, DofD, IAG – Automotive Industry Action Group, and DSSG – Distribution Symbol Study Group.