Choosing The Right Barcode For Your Asset ID Labels


When choosing  an asset id label that lets you manage your assets more efficiently, barcoded asset id labels are the way to go. Barcodes allow you to retrieve information instantaneously all with the wave of a scanner. Not only that, if the information on your assets needs updating, you need only to change the information in your central database rather than on each asset tag.

What many people may not know is there are a number of different barcodes, each one more suitable to a particular application than another. Considering Seton’s line of barcoded asset id labels features three different barcode symbologies, knowledge of what differentiates one from the other will ensure you choose the best barcode for your needs. The three types of barcode options we offer are: Code 39, Code 128 and Code 2 of 5 Interleaved.

Code 39

Also known as Code 3 of 9 and USD-3, a Code 39 barcode is one of the first alpha-numeric barcodes and is still widely used in many industries and applications. In fact, Code 39 is the barcode standard for many government agencies including the Department of Defense. The character set for a Code 39 would include the letters A-Z in upper case, the digits 0-9 and these symbols: dollar sign ($), minus (-), percent (%), period (.), plus (+), forward slash (/) and a space, 43 characters all in all. This type of barcode does not require a checksum.

Barcode 39

An example of a Code 39 barcode.

A Code 39 barcode can be read by just about any scanner available on the market. And since this barcode is checksum optional, it’s easier to use. This barcode requires a lot of physical space to encode data. Consequently, very small goods cannot be labeled with a Code 39 barcode. Barcode 39 is ideal in retail and point-of-sale scanning (POS) applications, inventory control and also for monitoring smaller items like laptops, tools and handheld equipment.

Code 128

A Code 128 barcode can be used as either alpha-numeric or numeric only. Compared to Code 39, Code 128 has a higher selection of symbols to choose from and can be encoded with a higher density of information. Its character set includes the numbers 0-9 and the letters A-Z in both upper and lower case, as well as all the ASCII symbols, 106 characters all in all.  These symbols are usually organized into 3 subsets, namely A, B and C. Unlike Code 39, Code 128 requires a checksum.


An example of a Code 128 barcode.

Because Code 128 can be encoded with a higher data density, this type of barcode can be used in more data-intensive applications like logistics for shipping, ordering, distribution and transportation, and in encoding coupons.

Bar Code 2 of 5 Interleaved


An example of an Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode. The zero at the beginning of the number set was generated due to the odd number nature of the set.

Code 2 of 5 Interleaved is a high density, purely numerical barcode symbology. Similar to Code 39, Code 2 of 5 Interleaved doesn’t require a checksum. This barcode encodes numbers in pairs, so if a number set ends “oddly”, a zero must be added to the beginning of the set to even it out. Code 2 of 5 Interleaved is also unique in that information is also encoded in the white spaces of the barcode. Code 2 of 5 Interleaved barcodes are typically used in the warehouse industry as well as in libraries, wholesale and distribution applications.


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