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1D or 2D: What's the Difference?

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POSMarket.com.au  is an Australian company that specialises in a wide range of Point of Sale (POS) equipment for businesses. This article discusses the salient features of 1D and 2D barcodes to help potential users understand them better.

When a business or industry determines which barcode labels to use to meet their needs and that of their customers in addition to what equipment will best scan and track those labels, one of the crucial focal points is the selection between ‘1D’ or ‘2D’.

Knowing the differences between them is paramount to making an informed decision.

It Isn't L x W?

All barcodes are computer-generated encryption markers that electronically identify objects.

Sometimes, the barcode contains simple information, other times, more complex. The physical size of the barcode might indicate in what format data is encrypted – alpha, numeric or both, but it does not delineate whether it's 1D or 2D.

The ‘D’ operationally indicates ‘direction’, though the term ‘dimension’ is used. It does not annotate the barcode cubic parameters – whether they are X cm high, Y cm wide or Z cm deep.

A one-dimensional (1D) or two-dimensional (2D) barcode delineates the data encryption configuration within the coding itself, i.e., in how many dimensions the information is encrypted.

1D Barcodes

Because they contain small amounts of information, most 1D barcodes are coincidentally relatively small in size – generally smaller than 2D barcodes.

Encryption is formatted in one direction – vertically.

Most 1D barcodes expand data placement along the entire line or height of the barcode.

The data is repeated numerous times along its lay, which allows data retrieval by a barcode scanner even if the barcode becomes damaged.

2D Barcodes

2D barcodes encrypt data both vertically and horizontally. Instead of solid lines, 2D barcodes have a more jagged appearance.

Generally, 2D barcodes hold more data in addition to having a high data redundancy for retrieval continuity.

Choosing 1D or 2D

1D barcodes can suffice with small amounts of data – up to approximately 15 characters.

2D barcodes have a greater capacity for data storage. Because of the multi-dimensional capacity of 2D barcodes, more complex encryption, higher storage capacity and full data redundancy are advantages over 1D barcodes.


Both 1D and 2D barcodes possess data storage, encryption and retrieval protection capabilities.

Choose the type that best fits business and customer needs.

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