1D vs. 2D barcoding: which system is right for your business?

If you are considering a barcode system to streamline your warehousing, manufacturing, or distribution business, you are making a wise choice. Companies in these industries experienced increased productivity and reduced errors when implementing a barcode system in their daily processes.

One important factor in your decision is which type of barcode scanner is best - 1D vs 2D barcoding. The question isn't so much which one is best, as it is which one is best for your business.

1D Barcoding and Scanners

1D barcodes are made up of parallel lines and spaces. They are good for storing a fairly small amount of information, such as a product name and number, and short description or location. The more information you try to include in the barcode, the longer it becomes, which can be problematic.

1D barcode scanners can only scan 1D barcodes. Their range, however, is 50% greater than a 2D imager, and they have better motion tolerance. This makes them a good choice if your staff will need to scan items from a distance or while moving along in a cart. They are also the more economical choice of the two.


  • 1D scanners are less costly, have better motion tolerance, and a longer range.
  • 1D barcodes are good for small amounts of information.


  • 1D scanners cannot read 2D barcodes.
  • 1D barcodes can hold only a limited amount of information.

2D Barcoding and Imagers

2D barcodes are made up of a combination of dots and other geometric patterns. They are more rectangle in shape, and aren't read in a strictly horizontal fashion. For this reason, they can hold a large amount of information in a small area. It's said that the entire Gettysburg Address has been printed on a 2D barcode - that's 275 words. That means there is plenty of room for a product name, description, location, status, and a number of other helpful designations in the barcode. 2D barcodes can be read at any angle, and can withstand a fair amount of damage before they become unreadable - both important considerations in a warehouse environment.

2D barcode readers are called imagers, because they basically take a picture of the 2D barcode. Since they are imagers and not just barcode readers, they can capture an image or signature as well. Unlike 1D scanners, 2D imagers can read both 1D and 2D barcodes.


  • 2D scanners can read 1D barcodes and can capture more information than 1D scanners.
  • 2D barcodes hold a large amount of information, can be read at any angle, and remain readable despite some damage.


  • 2D scanners are more costly and are not as accurate if there are several barcodes close together on a product, such as the back of a cellphone. Implementing a Barcode system in your business is an important decision and whether to use a 1D or 2D Barcoding system is a critical factor. Which one is right for you depends on the type and amount of information you need to store, as well as how your organization will use the system.

Our team at Supply Chain Services can recommend the best barcode solution for your business. We have extensive experience with businesses just like yours and can help you implement a cohesive, cost effective system. Contact us to discuss your specific needs today.

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