Wasp Barcode Technologies: The Barcode Solution People

Linear vs. 2D Barcodes - Which is Right for You?

When it comes to linear vs. 2D barcodes, do you know which one is right for you? To answer this question, consider how you will use the barcode. For example, will you use barcodes on shipping labels? On produce? At the point of sale? Sometimes you don’t have a choice about which barcode to use because of certain regulations or standards in your industry. For example, if you are distributing products with UPC/EAN identification numbers, you might be required to use linear ITF-14 barcodes on your shipping containers. If you are labeling small items, you may need to use GS1 DataBars. And if you use point of sale (POS) systems in a retail environment, you may find it best to use UPC/EAN codes to track and manage your inventory.

Compare linear vs. 2D barcodes

For applications not bound by industry requirements, you can choose which barcode to use. To determine whether linear or 2D barcodes are right for your unique needs, compare the benefits of both in the following table:

linear vs. 2D





  • Has a low storage capacity with less than 85 characters
  • Has a high storage capacity with hundreds of characters


  • Uses a database to store information
  • Provides Instant access to information because it doesn’t use a database


  • Are less durable than 2D barcodes because they don’t use error-correction formulas
  • Cannot be read when damaged
  • Use highly durable, error-correction formulas to keep data intact when scratched, ripped, or marked through
  • Can still be read when moderately damaged


  • Widely adopted and regulated by many industries
  • Widely adopted and regulated by many industries


  • Mostly larger in size than 2D barcodes, which can limit their use
  • Typically smaller in size than 1D barcodes, which allow them to be more broadly used


  • Uses first-generation technology for limited capabilities
  • Uses latest technology for broader capabilities


  • Can only read 2D barcodes
  • Costs slightly less than 2D, but they only read one barcode type
  • Can often read both 1D and 2D barcodes
  • Costs a little more than 1D, but they often read both barcode types

Learn more

For a list of common linear barcodes,  click here. To see a list of common 2D barcodes, click here.