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A-Z Glossary


2 of 5
See Standard 2 of 5

A term used to describe mobile telephony that offers Web access, but without offering the full functionality of 3G. Another name for GPRS

2D Code
A two dimensional barcode, able to pack significantly more data into the same space occupied by a conventional one dimensional (linear) barcode. Examples include DayaMatrix, QR Code, Aztec Code.

3D barcode
This is not a symbology, but a set of 8 methods of creating a raised 3D representation of a conventional barcode. Also known as a bumpy barcode the raised marks and flat surfaces ere the equivalent to conventional bars and spaces. The readers use a combination of laser light and CCD sensing to obtain a decode even in the complete absence of conventional optical contrast. Used in tough environments or on products with harsh manufacturing processes, 3D codes can even be painted over without affecting readability.

Third generation mobile telephony providing full multimedia to the palm top device. The emerging standard is UMTS.

A collective term for short-range wireless technologies, notably Bluetooth.


See IEEE 802.11.



Access Point
A piece of hardware that forms the point of connection between a modern wired network and a wireless network. The hardware incorporates an antenna and a physical network connection. It is often referred to as a base station.

Active Tag
An RF tag that has its own power source, and so does not rely on the interrogating device to deliver enough RF power to operate its circuitry. Active tags are generally used where long range interrogation is required.

Add on 2
Used in conjunction with EAN or UPC barcodes, 2-digit supplemental barcodes are only used with magazines, newspapers and other such periodicals. The 2-digit supplement represents the issue number of the magazine.

Add on 5
Used in conjunction with EAN or UPC barcodes, 2-digit supplemental barcodes are only used with books. The 5-digit supplement represents the suggested retail price.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line a successor to ISDN. It is used to transfer voice and data over the same line

Automatic Fare Collection, the use of contact or contactless smart cards for payment.

Automotive Industry Action Group: Amongst other activities, a standards body looking at developing a standard marking label for the automotive industry.

Automatic Identification and Data Capture; a generic term encompassing bar code scanning, optical character recognition, biometrics, machine vision, mobile computing and RF data communications, RFID, voice recognition, contact memory, magnetic cards, smart cards etc.

Automatic Identification Manufacturers, the worldwide professional body representing the auto-ID industry.

The range of ASCII characters consisting of upper and lower case letters, numbers and other special characters such as plus, minus, period, comma and slash.

Anker Code
See Plessey Code

The American National Standards Institute.

Association for payment clearing services, an umbrella body for the UK payments industry.

Application Program Interface. This is pre-written piece of software which lets a programmer integrate 2 different pieces of software together.

American National Standard Code for Information Interchange between data processing systems, communication systems and associated equipment.

Aspect Ratio
The ratio of the bar's height to the symbol's length. This is especially important when considering omnidirectional scanning equipment.

Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, an association setting (amongst other activities) marking standards for the Telecommunications industry.

Access tracking zone. Part of a chip card's memory reserved for registering secret keys or card holder codes.

The ability of a barcode decoder to automatically determine what type of barcode is being scanned.

Aztec Code
A 2D symbology with a finder pattern of concentric square rings centered on a single dark module located in the center of the symbol. It is designed with user-selectable percentages of error correction. Used for small item marking applications.

Aztec Mesa
A 2D matrix form of supplemental field used to form "composite" bar code symbols, wherein a linear primary symbol is augmented by an attached 2D data field. It is a graphical rearrangement of an Aztec Code symbol into layers of modules lying above, and possibly also below, the linear host symbol. The entire symbol is referred to as an Aztec Mesa composite. The linear host symbol may be one of several established linear symbologies.


Bar Code Character
A single group of bars and spaces, which represent an individual character.

Bar Code Symbology
A set of rules used to encode normal characters into a sequence of bars and spaces.

Bar Width
The horizontal thickness of a bar. Minimum bar width is an important measure when determining how small a bar code can be when printed or scanned.

Bar Width Reduction
Reduction of the nominal bar width dimension on film masters or printing plates to compensate for printing gain.

Base Station
See Access Point.

Bearer Bars
A minimum of two parallel bars running the length of the top and bottom edge of a bar code. Bearer bars, if used, reduce the probability of a misread when a skewed scanning beam enters and/or leaves the symbol through the top or bottom.

Biometric authentication
Any method of verifying the identity of a person by measuring a biological characteristic, for example finger print recognition, retinal and iris scanning, voice recognition.

Emerging low cost short range wireless networking technology operating on a similar frequency band to IEEE802.11b. Intended to reduce the tangle of wires that often builds up next to computer equipment. For more information please refer to the Bluetooth section of our Products pages.

The "Bookland" code is an EAN-13 barcode with a number system (initial 3 digits) of 978. The rest of the barcode is formulated by removing the last digit from the book's ISBN number (which is the ISBN check digit), appending the resulting code to the number system, and adding the appropriate EAN13 check digit. Some barcode scanners can be programmed to automatically decode the EAN13 number and return the ISBN number to the host computer.

BPO 4 state
British Post Office, 4 state mail code. Equivalent to the Postnet code used in the USA, but extended to allow for the alphanumeric content of British postcodes. Like Postnet, the height of the bars is used to encode data, the bar height having 4 possible states.

A networking device, which links networks together. It is a less intelligent version of a router

Bumpy barcode
See 3D barcode


Canadian 4 State
See CPC 4 State.

CCD Scanner
A common type of bar code scanner deriving its name from the Charge Coupled Device at the centre of its optical sensing circuitry.

Common Gateway Interface. This is a web programming language standard. It is associated with the production of server based Web applications.

Clearing House Automated Payment System.

Character Density
Generally given as the number of characters per inch (cpi), This dimension is the length, in linear inches, required to encode one character.

Character Set
Those characters available for encodation in a particular bar code symbology.

Check Character
The check character is the total of a group of alphabetic and/or numeric characters used for error-checking purposes. See also Modulo check character.

Chip and PIN
The future of card payments. A secure way of paying for goods where a smart (chip) card is used in conjunction with a keyed in personal identity number (PIN). This is replacing the current 'swipe and sign' method, and will become commonplace across Europe by January 2005 as the banks shift liability for card fraud.

Clear Area
An area that precedes the start character of a bar code and follows the stop character. This area should contain no dark marks and should be 10 times the size of the narrowest bar code symbol's bar or 0.25 inch wide, whichever is greater. Also known as quiet zone.

Client Server
Conceptual software architecture approach where common resources are shared. The shared resource is called the Server e.g. database server and the software requesting the service is called the Client.

A bar code format in which four bars and three spaces represent the digits 0 through 9 and certain special characters. The code is characterized by four unique start/stop codes, variable intercharacter spacing, and code density of up to 10 character per inch.

Codablock is a stacked symbology was adopted by German blood banks for the identification of blood. Developed by ICS Identcode-Systeme, it was originally a stack of Code 39 symbols. The current version is Codablock F which is basically a stack of Code 128 symbols, consisting of between 2 and 44 rows, each up to a maximum of 62 characters.

Code 11 (USD-8)
Code 11 is used primarily for labeling telecommunications equipment. The character set includes the digits 0 t0 9, a dash, and a start/stop code. Each character is encoded with three bars and two spaces. Of these five elements, there may be two wide and three narrow, or one wide and four narrow. Wide elements represent a binary 1 while narrow elements represent a binary 0.

Code 128
A variable length, alphanumeric bar code. Characters in Code 128 consist of three bars and three spaces. Bars and spaces may be one, two, three, or four modules wide. The total character width is 11 modules.

Code 16K
A stacked barcode symbology similar in its properties to Code 128 (the nake 16K was derived from 128 squared). It resolved an inherent problem with the structure of Code 49 that required a large amount of memory for encoding and decoding algorithms. It can contain 2 to 16 rows each of 5 ascii characters. Additionally, up to 107 16-row symbols can be concatenated together.

Code 39
A variable length alpha-numeric bar code. Code 39 encodes 43 characters; 0 - 9, A - Z, minus symbol, plus symbol, forward slash, space, decimal point, dollar sign and percent symbol. Each character is encoded by 9 bars, 3 of which are always wide.

Code 49
Developed by Intermec Technologies to fill a need high information density, this is a little used stacked barcode symbology encoding the full ASCII 128 character set. See also Code 16K.

Code 93
A variable length, alpha-numeric bar code. Code 93 encodes all 128 ASCII characters. Each character is encoded with 9 modules composed in a pattern of 3 bars and 3 spaces. Each bar and space width may be one, two, three or four modules wide.

Code One
2D symbology used both for large data file encoding and small item marking applications.

A measure of the strength of a magnetic field used to classify the magnetic stripe characteristics of a credit card style plastic card.

Composite Code
A classification of barcodes where two different symbologies (usually one linear, the other2D) can be combined into one arrangement. The 2D part of the code will contain supplemental data to the linear key code whilst the linear code can provide a positioning reference for the 2D code. Examples are Aztec Mesas and RSS codes.

Contact Scanner
A bar code scanner that requires physical contact between the encoded medium and the scanner. A pen scanner is a typical example.

Continuous Bar Code Symbology
A bar code symbology such as Interleaved 2 of 5 (ITF) where all spaces within the symbol are parts of characters. There is no intercharacter gap in a continuous code.

CP Code
Developed by CP Tron, a proprietary 2D symbology square matrix symbols with an L-shaped peripheral finder and adjacent timing marks (similar in appearance to Data Matrix Code).

CPC 4 State
Canada Post Code; Used by the Canadian Post Office for mass mailings, this 4-State barcode is height modulated, containing both alpha and numeric character sets.

Comma separated, variable field length file.


Data Identifier
A character (or set of characters) that uniquely defines the specific use of the data or the general category of the data field encoded in the bar code symbol following it.

Data Matrix
A 2-D matrix code designed to pack a lot of information in a very small space.

Originally known as Softstrip, this proprietary code is owned by Datastrip inc. It is one of the first 2D matrix codes, and now sees limited use on some ID cards.

Measure of how easily a printed barcode can be deciphered accurately by a bar code reader.

The part of a bar code reader (or separate box) that decodes the acquitted signal back into recognisable characters.

Digital European Cordless Telecommunications standard

Depth of field
Not to be confused with the range of a scanner, this gives an indication of a range of distance from the scanner over which a bar code of a stated resolution can be scanned. As a general rule, the greater the depth of field the easier it is to use the scanner.

Direct Exchange; a standard used with in retail to promote the electronic exchange of data between supplier and retailer.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol This is a networking protocol that allows Internet addresses to be dynamically allocated to Windows PCs. Sharing Internet addresses gets around the fact that there is a very limited number of Internet addresses available.

Direct Thermal
A printing method common in on demand labelling systems where the useful life of the label is short. The print head consists of heating elements that transfer the image to thermally sensitive media.

Discrete Bar Code Symbology
A bar code symbology such as Code 39, in which no information is contained in the width of the spaces between characters. This can be useful where two parts of a barcode are printed at different times.

Dot Code A
Also known as Philips Code, this a dot code symbology designed for unique identification of objects in a relatively small area, or for direct marking by low precision marking technologies. The symbol consists of a square array of dots ranging from 6 x 6, to 12 x 12. Applications include the identification of laboratory glassware and the marking of laundry.

Dots per inch; a measure of how fine a printer is able to print images, barcodes or characters.

Direct Store Delivery Management; A term used in the Retail industry for the automated process of delivering goods and simultaneously electronically updating the store's inventory system. The DEX (Direct Exchange) and UCS (Universal Communications Standard) standards are used to implement DSD.

Dual Band
An emerging classification of IEEE802.11 wireless products supporting simultaneous operation of 802.11a and 802.11b protocols.


European Article Number, a superset of the original American UPC code; used primarily in retail sales.

EAN 128
Developed to provide a worldwide format and standard for exchanging common data between companies, this symbology encodes data in a structured way that also provides information about what that data represents, such as a currency value, weight or volume. The symbology used it Code 128, the additional structure is defined by the UCC/EAN associations.

The primary retail symbology in Europe, EAN-13 is a superset of the original UPC-A. This means that any software or hardware capable of reading an EAN-13 symbol will automatically be able to read an UPC-A symbol. The only difference between EAN-13 and UPC-A is that the number system code in UPC-A is a single digit from 0 through 9 whereas an EAN-13 number system code consists of two digits ranging from 00 through 99, which is essentially a country code. Each country has a numbering authority which assigns manufacturer codes to companies within its jurisdiction. The manufacturer code is still five digits long, as is the product code, and the check digit is calculated in exactly the same way.

Shortened version of EAN13, permitted for use on small items where there is insufficient space for a 13 digit code. Its structure is not equivalent to UPC-E, the short code for UPC-A.

Extensible Authentication Protocol; A protocol allowing wireless client adapters to communicate with RADIUS servers (also defined in this glossary).

Electronic Article Surveillance - primarily the use of RF tags as a deterrent to theft in the retail industry.

Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution is currently being standardized within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute and represents the final evolution of data communications within the GSM standard. EDGE uses a new modulation scheme to enable data throughput speeds of up to 384kbit/s using existing GSM infrastructure.

Electronic data interchange.

Electronic funds transfer at the point of sale.

Electromagnetic interference a measure of how much electrical noise is emitted by a piece of equipment. This must be below internationally specified limits.

The Eurocard Mastercard Visa standards agreement governing chip card transactions. Any equipment used for 'Chip and PIN' funds transfer must be EMV compliant.

Enterprise Resource Planning. This term encapsulates a market where the vendors sell both products and services. The ERP vendors sell a range of modules, which cover major aspects of business such as human resources and accounting.

Electrostatic discharge usually a measure of a products ability to withstand damage from external electric shocks.

Extended Code 39
By using two barcode characters to represent one ascii character, the Code 39 barcode can be used to encode a richer number of characters, including ascii control codes and lower case letters. The Code 39 specification remains the same, but the bar code readers must be programmed to interpret the decoding in a different way.

An intranet that allows restricted access to the outside world.


Fat client
This is a model of computing whereby a significant volume of the processing is done at the client end. Also known as Thick client

A specific size and style of printer's type.

Full duplex
See Half duplex.


A networking device which links networks together whilst retaining control over what data is exchanged.

General Pack Radio Service. A technology for providing reasonably high bandwidth wireless networking. Sometimes referred to as 2.5 G.

Originally Group Special Mobile, later commonly changed to Global System for Mobile Communication. A technology for providing voice quality wireless networking. Sometimes referred to as 2G.

"Global Tag", is an international initiative jointly sponsored by the Uniform Code Council and EAN International to create an open standard for RFID use within retail and the supply chain.

Global Trade Item number: A proposed 'replacement' of EAN13 and UPC numbers (since the latter is expected to run out of available numbers by 2007). A 14 digit item number is proposed, offering more marking flexibility than its predecessors.

Guard Bars
Bars contained within a barcode used as reference points for scanning devices.


Half duplex
A term used in data communication to indicate that data can not be simultaneously transmitted and received from a device. It must transmitted first, then clear the line and wait to receive data. With full duplex there are separate communications for transmitted data and received data. The amount of data that can be sent is therefore increased.

High Coercivity. See coercivity.

"Health Industry Bar Code,"

HyperText Mark Up Language. Similar to a program language, used to display information on a web page.

Hyper text transfer protocol, part of the TCP/IP series of protocols used to transfer data across the web.

Hue Code
Developed by Robot Design Associates, this proprietary code is made up of blocks of cells coded using shades of grey or colour. Using dye sublimation printers over 40,000 bytes of data can be encoded per square inch. Intended to store text information on the back of business cards or medical cards it is read using a flatbed image scanner and proprietary software.

Human Readable
A set of characters equivalent to the content of the barcode, usually printed beneath it.


A modified version of the Standard 2 of 5 barcode used to sequentially number airline tickets.

Standard protocol for a wireless local area network operating around the relatively interference-free 5 GHz frequency band. It has a raw data rate of 54 million bits per second and 8 non overlapping channels making it ideal for high density deployments. Properly configured it offers higher data security than IEEE802.11b. It is not interchangeable with IEEE802.11b.

Standard protocol for a wireless local area network operating around the 2.4 GHz frequency band. It is the most cost effective of the 802.11 standards to implement and 'WiFi' product certification is a very good indication of manufacturer interoperability. It is the 802.11 variant most suitable for handheld computers because the client cards use less power and the access points cover a wider area. The maximum raw data rate is 11 million bits per second.

Emerging standard protocol for a wireless local area network operating around the 2.4 GHz frequency, with a raw data rate of 54 million bits per second. It is backwards compatible with 802.11b WiFi devices.

Backward compatible interim wireless networking standard designed to strengthen WEP key encryption and address other security issues exposed in earlier versions of the 802.11 standard.

This wireless standard builds on authentication for network access control and is used in Windows XP. It improves WEP and other security features in the 802.11b standard by strengthening the security of MAC addresses on client devices.

Intacta Code
Developed by Intacta Technologies, a proprietary code for specially compressed binary data files such as executable files, video, text, audio.

Intercharacter Space
The space between two adjacent bar code characters.

Interleaved 2 of 5
Interleaved 2 of 5 is a continuous, self-checking, numeric symbology employing two element size widths. Characters are paired together with each character composed of five elements, two wide and three narrow. Can be used to represent the characters 0 to 9.

A closed network based on Internet technologies. Typically used by organisations to facilitate information sharing within the organisation

ISBT 128
An international standard for the bar code used on blood packaging enabling critical information such as blood type and expiry date to be accurately transferred between participating facilities. A derivation of Code 128, it is now registered for use in facilities in 28 countries across all five continents.

Integrated services digital network

ISO 10536
Key standard for contactless smart cards from the International Standards Organisation.

ISO 4909
The standard defining the content of track 3 of the magnetic stripe on an ISO standard financial transaction card.

ISO 7813
The standard which lays down the specifications for identification cards which may also be financial transaction cards. It defines the structures of tracks 1 and 2 of the magnetic stripe.

Close proximity contactless smart card standard from the International Standards Organisation. There are two variants. The 'A' standard is based on the Philips MIFARE communications protocol, the 'B' standard is more generic. A 'C variant' (based on a proprietary Sony protocol) may also be adopted.

ISS Supercode
SuperCode is a packet bar code symbology, a variant of a multi-row symbology. There are precise rules for the horizontal placement of symbol characters in a packet, but greater freedom in placing packets vertically and horizontally than offered by a matrix of columns and rows in a multi-row symbology.

See Interleaved 2 of 5


Japanese Numbering Authority. The same as EAN, but starting with the number system 49.

A smart card that can be programmed using a subset of the Java computer language.


A network authentication protocol used with WEP in wireless networking. It uses mutual authentication (it is applied to wireless devices and access points) and has stronger data encryption than WEP.

KIX Code
Used in the Dutch postal system for mass mailings, this encodes the postcode and house number.


A bar code printed in a vertical position (usually in the feed direction of the printer) such that the bars can be thought of as rungs on a ladder. Care has to be used when printing in this orientation as the tolerances are wider.

Local Area Network. A network contained within an office, building or campus, enabling connected devices (e.g. PCs) to communicate with each other.

Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol; developed for 802.11 networks by Cisco Systems, it provides mutual authentication between devices at user configurable intervals.

Linear Imager
Type of barcode scanner using the same technology as a CCD scanner but with more sophisticated optics, allowing it to scan over a greater distance.

Low coercivity. See coercivity.

(LOGistic applications for Marking And Reading Symbols). An American Department of Defense program to place Code 39 symbols encoding specific data on all items sold to the Federal Government.


E-commerce via a wireless network.

Machine to machine telecommunications

Media Access Control; a means of controlling access to a network by uniqely identifying all hardware devices attached to the network.

MAC Address
A unique identification number assigned to any device attaching to a modern wired or wireless network. It can be used for low level security control.

Multi-Application Operating System Consortium, the originators of the Multos operating system.

Message Application Programming Interface. Messaging software in client/server applications, which enable developers to build applications that are spread over several platforms (distributed applications). The software on each platform communicates with other platforms by sending messages.

Matrix Code
A classification of two dimensional codes composed of a matrix of shapes arranged according to the rules of a symbology.

2D code made up of an array of interlocking hexagons. This allows the code to be at least 15 percent denser than a square dot code, but requires higher resolution printers to print the symbol. There is a central bull-eye to allow a scanner to locate the label regardless or orientation.

See Aztec Mesa

MicroPDF417 is a multi-row symbology, derived from and closely based on PDF417. It is more compact designed for applications that do not need PDF417s maximum data capacity.

Software used to enable one or more applications to communicate with each other or the outside world across a network.

Fully compliant with ISO 14443A, MIFARE is the industry standard for contactless and dual interface smart card schemes.

0.001 inch (0.0254 mm). Commonly used to refer to the width of bar code elements.

A proprietary 2d matrix code developed by Omniplanar, made up of square matrix symbols with a patented method of encoding both low and high resolution data. Used in tracking and shipping manifest applications.

Minimum Reflectivity Differenc
The reflectivity difference is the least amount of light reflected by the narrowest white space minus the most amount of light reflected by the widest black bar. A scanner specification will indicate the Minimum Reflectivity Difference it is able to tolerate whilst still able to scan a code.

Modified Plessey Code
Another name for MSI code (see also Plessey Code)

Modulo Check Character(s)
The modulo check character is based on the remainder in a mathematical formula where characters within the data string are assigned weighted values, summed and then divided by the modulus. This value is then appended to the data string. Modulo check characters are used to ensure the accuracy of a data scan.

MSI Code
See Plessey Code

A smart card operating system aimed at operating multiple applications off a single chip card.


A term used to describe a low bandwidth medium. In wireless it is often used to describe devices communicating at 418 or 433 MHz.


Optical Character Recognition.

Abbreviations commonly applied to the character set contained in ANSI standards X3.17-1974 (A) and X3.49-1975 (B) for computer readable fonts.

Open Database Connectivity A standard that allows front-end GUI development languages such as Visual Basic to access server databases.

Odette Label
Label design format specified by the Organization for Data Exchange by Tele-Transmission in Europe; a group that represents the interests of the European automotive industry.

Related to bar code scanners, when the code can be presented to the scanner and read in any orientation.

On Demand Printer
A printer capable of printing individual labels or tags, as directed by the application program.

The alignment of the symbol's scan path. Two possible orientations are horizontal with vertical bars and spaces (picket fence) and vertical with horizontal bars and spaces (ladder). An omnidirectional scanner can read a barcode in any orientation.


Passive chip card
A plastic card with an integrated microchip that does not contain programmed processing elements.

Passive tag
An RF tag that relies on the interrogating device to deliver enough RF power to operate its circuitry. See also RF tag.

Private branch exchange

Personal computer memory card international association (or interface adapter)

Personal Digital Assistant. A hand-held computing device, such as the Palm and Compaq iPAQ range of products.

PDF 417
PDF (Portable Data File) 417 is a stacked symbology developed and promoted by Symbol Technologies. The structure of the code allows for between 1000 to 2000 characters per symbol. Each symbol has a start and stop bar group that extends the height of the symbol. It is not as compact as true 2D codes.

A C-like programming language, good at handling text and files; often used in developing Web server applications.

Sponsored by Leatus Systems, this is used extensively in the Pharmaceutical packaging industry to ensure that leaflet, label, container, carton, contents, and other packing materials are correct.

Philips Code
See Dot Code A

A web server scripting language.

Picket Fence Code
A bar code printed in a horizontal position such that the individual bars appear like the slates in a picket fence. See Ladder Code.

Rotation of a barcode symbol about an axis parallel to the direction of the bars.

Public Key Infrasructure, a cryptographic system that ses two different keys (public and private) for encrypting and signing data. It facilitates secure transactions from mobile phones and computers.

Planet Code
Developed in 1995 for the U.S. Postal Service, this variation of POSTNET is capable of encoding alphanumeric fields for mail sorting and tracking purposes.

Plessey Code
Developed in 1971, true Plessey Code (sometimes called UK variant) was used extensively in UK libraries. A variation called Anker Code was used in European point of sale systems prior to the advent of EAN. Another derivative is MSI code, sometimes known as modified Plessey Code. This was used for marking of retail shelves and subsequent scanning with portable devices to accomplish inventory re-ordering. Now little used.

Point of Sale.

A position based bar code symbology where the position of a single width bar is used to encode the full ascii character set

PostNet was developed by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to allow faster sorting and routing of mail. Unlike most other barcodes in which data is encoded in the width of the bars and spaces, PostNet actually encodes data in the height of the bars. The barcode itself can encode either a standard 5-digit Zip Code, a Zip+4 code, or a full 11-point delivery point code.

Print Contrast Signal (PCS)
Found as a part of a bar code specification the Print Contrast Signal compares the amount of light reflected by the bars, in contrast to the amount of light reflected by the spaces in a bar code symbol. The Print Contrast Signal value is the bar reflectance expressed as a percentage of the space reflectance.

Print Quality
The measure of compliance of a bar code symbol to the requirements of dimensional tolerance, edge roughness, spots, voids, reflectance, PCS, quiet zone, and encodation.

Print resolution
A measure of how fine an image, bar code or character can be printed; usually measured in terms of dots per inch (dpi)


QR Code
A 2D symbology with position detection patterns on three of its four corners. It has selectable levels of error correction.

Quiet Zone
The Quiet zone is the blank area preceding the beginning and following the end of the bar code; sometimes call the clear area. It should be typically a few mm wide to assist scanning equipment with the decoding process.


Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service; a protocol for carrying authentication, authorisation and configuration information between a network access server and an authentication server. It is an additional security feature designed to block traffic from unauthenticated users attempting to access a wired network.

RF Tag
A read only or read - write electronic device used for identification. RF communication to interrogate or modify its contents.

RSS Symbologies
Reduced Space Symbology; a family of linear symbologies that are restricted and subject to compliance with the EAN International (EAN) and Uniform Code Council, Inc. (UCC) rules. Any member of the RSS family can be printed as a stand-alone linear symbol or as a Composite symbol with an accompanying 2D Composite Component printed directly above the RSS linear component.


SIMalliance toolbox. A global standard for secure, SIM based access to WML and other internet based content.

A German company, which invented the ERP market place, and is the biggest player; also the name of its product. Its roots lie in the world of MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning) systems.

A bar code or symbol using a checking algorithm which can be independently applied to each character to guard against undetected errors.

Simultaneous Identification: A term applied to RF-ID tags and reader systems where multiple tags can be read at the same time.

SIM card
Subscriber Identity Module used in mobile telecommunications in the form of a removable chip card.

SISAC code
Serials Industry Systems Advisory Committee Code, is a system used to encode serial literature items (magazine/period issue) and/or individual articles. Pimarily used by managers of serial titles and/or their contributions.

Rotation of a bar code symbol about an axis parallel to the symbol's length.

Smart Code
Developed by InfoImaging Technologies, a proprietary code made up of a large printed array suitable for either page scanning or direct fax transmissions.

Short Messaging service. A popular wireless standard for transmitting text based messages.

Developed by Marconi, a 2D code called composed entirely of dots arranged in a pattern and set in rows and columns. Offering 360 read flexibility is can encode over 100 numeric characters in a five mm x five mm code. It is can be read even if up to 40 per cent of the code is damaged and can be created either in a square or rectangular shape.

Simple Object Access Protocol. A standard created by Microsoft to enable objects embedded in Web pages to communicate via the Internet. It is utilises XML and http.

See Datastrip.

Structured Query Language used to talk to databases.

Secure Socket Layer; an open encryption protocol used in most common internet browsers to secure internet transmissions.

Stacked Codes
16K, Code 49, PDF417 and MicroPDF417 are examples where a long symbol is broken into sections and "stacked" one upon another similar to sentences in a paragraph. Extremely compact codes.

Standard 2 of 5
One of the first barcodes to be developed, Stanadard 2 of 5 is a basic low-density numeric symbology that has been used in the photofinishing and warehouse sorting. Characters are encoded with 5 bars, 2 of which are always wide, hence its name.

Start/Stop Characters or Patte
A distinct character or pattern of bars used at the beginning and end of each bar code symbol, which provide reference information for the scanner decoder.

A 2D symbology using a packet structure, a more flexible variation of a stacked symbology, allowing for non-rectangular symbol shapes.

A set of rules defining the encoding of conventional data into a barcode form.


Telephony Application Programming Interface. A standard for creating software driven telephone applications.

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions' (ATIS) Telecommunications Industry Forum, which is working towards supply chain marking standards within the global Telecommunications industry. A new standard, TCIF-00-003 is targeted for full use in October 2005, and introduces TLC39 composite bar codes.

TCIF Linked Code 39 (see also TCIF), a composite barcode that integrates MicroPDF417 with the linear code, set to become the marking standard for the Telecommunications industry by October 2005.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. A series of networking protocols associated with Unix and the Internet.

Compact barcode symbology capable of encoding the full ascii character set without using shift characters. Used extensively in libraries it is now gradually being replaced in many applications by Code 39 or Code 128.

Thermal Transfer
A printing method common in on demand labelling systems. The print head consists of heating elements that apply ink from a ribbon onto the media.

Thick Client
This is a model of computing whereby a significant volume of the processing is done at the client end. Also known as Fat client

Thin Client
This is a model of computing whereby almost all the processing is done at the server end. This enables low powered computers to be used at the front end.

Rotation of a bar code symbol about an axis perpendicular to the media.

Texas Instruments Registration and Identification System

Track 1
The first track in the magnetic stripe on an ISO standard financial transaction card (commonly known as a credit card). 8.3 bits of read only data is recorded per mm.

Track 2
The second track in the magnetic stripe on an ISO standard financial transaction card (commonly known as a credit card). 3 bits of read only data is recorded per mm. See also ISO 7813.

Track 3
The third track in the magnetic stripe on an ISO standard financial transaction card (commonly known as a credit card). 8.3 bits of read only data is recorded per mm. The contents is defined in ISO 4909.


Uniform Code Council, formerly Uniform Product Code Council; the organization which administers the UPC and other retail standards.

See EAN 128

Uniform Container Symbol.

Universal Communications Standard; used in the Retail industry to communicate commercial informarion between supplier and vendor.

UK Plessey Code
See Plessey Code.

Developed by Zebra Technologies a 2D symbol composed of a variable-length strip of pixel columns with non-critical widths. The code supports numeric and alphanumeric modes, black/white and higher data density colored printing. A low linear precision os required when printing.

Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. Third generation, broadband, packet based telecommunication up to 2 Mbps. Seen as the future of mobile communications.

UPC-A (Universal Product Code)
The American version of the EAN13 barcode, 12 digit code used originally by the U.S. grocery industry and later by other retail industries. It is composed of a number system character, a five digit manufacturer number assigned by the UCC, a five digit product code assigned by the manufacturer, and a modulo 10 check digit as the 12th digit.

A variation of UPC-A which allows for a more compact barcode by eliminating "extra" zeros. Since the resulting UPC-E barcode is about half the size as an UPC-A barcode, UPC-E is generally used on products with very small packaging where a full UPC-A barcode couldn't reasonably fit.

See Code 11

Uniform Symbol Specification. The current series of symbology specifications published by AIM; currently includes USS-I 2/5, USS-39, USS-93, USS-Codabar and USS-128.


Variable Length Symbology
A symbology whose length is not predetermined beyond the basic necessity for characters, such as start/stop codes. Examples of fixed length symbologies are UPCA and EAN13. Examples of variable length codes are Code 39 and Code 128. In these cases the maximum code length is dictated by printing or scanning restrictions.

Developed by Veritec, a 2 dimensional matrix code gaining use encoding data on vehicle license plates.

The technical process by which a Bar Code symbol is evaluated to determine whether it meets its specification.

A device that measures a symbol's bars, spaces, quiet zones, and optical characteristics to determine whether it meets the requirements of a specific symbol.

The undesirable absence of ink in a bar, usually caused by the presence of contaminants during the printing process.

Voice over Internet Protocol. A standard / technology for sending voice traffic over the Internet.

Virtual Private Network. A network that makes use of the public network but does so in a very secure manner. It offers better security than the Internet and is cheaper than leased lines.


Wide Area Network. An unconstrained network typically linking cities within and between countries, enabling connected devices (e.g. PCs) to communicate with each other.

Wireless Application Protocol, the method used by mobile phones to access the internet.

In the context of barcode scanners, a property of light that affects its scanning characteristics. Typical values are 633 nanometers (visible light) and 900 nanometers (infrared). Scanners using the latter are able to read through thermally printed security films, providing copy protection for identity cards.

The name usually given to electronic circuitry that injects data into the cable connecting the keyboard to a computer, making the data appear as if it were typed at the keyboard.

Wired Equivalent Privacy - the main security feature used in modern wireless networks. As the name suggests, it is inteneds to offer wireless users the same level of base security inherent in a wired network.

A security key that can be applied to each device on a wireless network. In a wireless network that has been configured for higher security data transmission between devices is encrypted. The WEP key is ised to encode and decode the data.

Wide to Narrow Ratio (N)
The ratio of the width of a wide bar to the width of a narrow bar generally in the range 2:1 to 3:1.

Symbol of interoperability between wireless devices connecting to a wireless local area network using the IEEE802.11b protocol.

A windows subroutine library that provides access to the Internet TCP/IP

Wireless Local Area Network, to which the IEEE802.11 series of specifications apply.

The Wireless Local Area Netwrok Association, the industry group promoting wireless networking technology, and a useful reference point for education and resources. For more information go to

Wireless Metropolitan Area Network, defined by the IEEE specification 802.16.

Wireless Mark-up Language, a derivative of HTML used in WAP applications.

Write Once Read Many Times; term often used to describe certain types of RF-ID tags.

Wireless Personal Area Network, for example Bluetooth.


Extensible Markup Language. A data context markup language which is becoming key to systems integration.



A relatively new open standard for wireless communication aimed at the home control, building automation and industrial automation markets. It is low cost, low power and physically miniature. It is intended for use in monitoring and control products. For more information visit