Bar Code Bar-Code or Barcode?

Types of Barcode OK, so barcodes are an important part of how things work these days and crucial to the existence as a business such as ours.

There is often a difference of opinion as to the correct spelling of the word for these interesting symbols.

If you’ve read my posts before, you’ll have noticed that I always spell the name as “barcode”. Others here at the WincoPlex tell me that it should be “bar code”.

The spell checker in Microsoft Office often wants to change my spelling to be “bar-code”!

So which is the correct way to document the name of this important item?

Merriam-Webster tells me this:

Definition of BAR CODE

: a code consisting of a group of printed and variously patterned bars and spaces and sometimes numerals that is designed to be scanned and read into computer memory and that contains information (as identification) about the object it labels
Whereas the Oxford Dictionary has this information:
Definition of barcode


a machine-readable code in the form of numbers and a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths, printed on and identifying a product. Also called Universal Product Code.

Working on the assumption that the Oxford Dictionary is clearly a better guide to English than Merriam-Webster (give me a break here, I am a British guy!), I feel that my “barcode” stance is totally vindicated – especially since the definitive source of all knowledge (Wikipedia) agrees!Having said that; M-W has by far the better definition – someone really needs to update the Oxford one.

Oh, as a barcode geek test, can you identify all the barcode symbologies I’ve used in my little graphic?

Final thought (and totally off topic) – how on earth can Google index my posts in four minutes? Amazing!

indexed in 4 minutes? nice job google!

Share Button


  1. We’ve often wondered about this actually! Thanks for doing the research!

    SA Barcodes

  2. The german dictionary “Duden” agrees with you: It’s Barcode

    Although we can use an half german / half englisch word, too: Strich­code (literally translated: Linecode)

  3. http://David%20Holliday says

    In German, would you use Strich­code for 2D barcodes as well, or is there a different name for those?

  4. Perhaps some none-industry people would say Strichcode for 2D-Barcode, but mostly they are called just Barcode or 2D-Barcode (or QR-Code).

    The german Wikipedia has an paragraph about it at
    which says: “The term 2D-Strichcode should be avoided, beacuse Strich means line and stands for classical 1D-Barcodes”.

    As there are more and more 2D-Barcodes around, the term “Barcode” is used more and more in Germany, even for 1D-Barcodes.

  5. http://David%20Holliday says

    I learn something everyday – thanks!

  6. http://BAR%20Keep says

    Appreciate your insights on this, David. Although, you still fat-fingered the spelling of “Oxford Diictionary,” with two i’s instead of one, where you mention the very same dictionary that you tout. Shall we presume that you had your Oxford auto-spell-check turned off?


  7. http://David%20Holliday says

    Yes, that is a good assumption. Spollimg wiz niver mie string poiint 🙂

  8. We have also faced this issue over the years and the answer is not clear even from the same source!

    You mentioned Oxford using barcode as one word; however, in an example sentence, they have it as two.

    If you go to, the standards organization that issues UPC codes, it does not get any clearer. In addition to the variations you note, they even have a “BarCode” – which is funny considering they are THE standards organization for this very issue.

    So, for me, I am just going to follow the standard noun/verb rule that nouns are 1 word and verbs are 2 words. For example: pickup truck vs. pick up a book.

    Bottom line for me: “The product has a barcode on it that is scanned by a barcode reader used in our bar coding QC process.”

  9. http://David%20Holliday says

    I like your thinking on this. Thanks for commenting!

  10. http://Marc says

    Got here looking for a definitive answer. I thought it was something like “organiSation” and “organiZation”. I use barcode too btw.

    Looked into GS1 website, as the other guy suggested. Well they use both, more “bar codes” instances though. The company is based in Belgium so im not sure if the Oxford/brit-merriam theory comes into play here. But “BarCodes” is another thing, based from what ive read, it is a standard for automatic identification which i assume youre familiar with. GS1’s BarCodes, the standard, make use of barcodes[or bar codes] in its implementation. Hope this helps lessen the confusion.

  11. http://RichardS says

    ISO standards use two words in their titles: “Aztec Code bar code symbology specification”.

    Regarding the trivia question, off the top of my head I see Code 39 (first row), Code 128, Maxicode and Data Matrix (second row) and Aztec, QR and PDF417 (third row).

  12. http://Mark says

    I don’t think the Oxford Dictionary definition needs updating. The Miriam Webster definition does not really give you more (relevant) information, it’s simply more verbose.

  13. http://Mark says

    OK so it’s Merriam!

Speak Your Mind