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How Thin Can a Barcode Be? (2024 Update)

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In this article, we will explore the limits of barcode thinness and the factors that influence their dimensions. Read on to learn more. 

How Thin can a Barcode be?

Barcodes come in varying widths, typically dictated by printing technology, ranging from 0.0075 inches (0.19 millimeters) for 1D barcodes to thinner sizes for high-density 2D barcodes. Below, we will explore the recommended minimum sizes for commonly used barcode types.

thin barcode

1D (One-Dimensional) Barcodes

1D barcodes are the traditional linear barcodes. They consist of a series of lines and spaces of varying widths. Here are some common 1D barcode examples along with their minimum recommended size for successful scanning:

UPC-A (Universal Product Code-A): This barcode is widely used for retail products. The minimum recommended size for a successful scan is approximately 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) in width and 1 inch (25.4 mm) in height.

EAN-13 (European Article Number 13): EAN-13 barcodes are used internationally. To ensure a successful scan, it is recommended to have a size of around 1.3 inches (33 mm) in width and 1 inch (25.4 mm) in height.

Code 128: Code 128 is a versatile barcode used in various industries. For reliable scanning, a minimum size of approximately 1 inch (25.4 mm) in width and 0.5 inches (12.7 mm) in height is recommended.

thin bar code

2D (Two-Dimensional) Barcodes

2D barcodes represent data using a matrix of dots, squares, or hexagons. They can store more information in a smaller space. Here are examples of 2D barcodes and their recommended minimum sizes for successful scanning:

QR Code (Quick Response Code): QR codes are commonly used for various purposes, including marketing and information sharing. For reliable scanning, a QR code should be at least 0.5 inches (12.7 mm) square.

Data Matrix: Data Matrix codes are used in manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare. To ensure successful scanning, a Data Matrix code should be at least 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) square.

PDF417: PDF417 barcodes are often used for driver's licenses and identification cards. For successful scanning, a PDF417 barcode should be at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) in width and 0.5 inches (12.7 mm) in height.

Factors Influencing Barcode Thickness

There are several factors that influence how thin a barcode can be. We will explore each factor below.

Barcode Type

The type of barcode directly affects its thickness. 1D barcodes are generally thicker because they represent less data, whereas 2D barcodes can be thinner due to their ability to encode more information.


The resolution of the barcode scanner matters. High-resolution scanners can read thinner barcodes. Some scanners can reliably read barcodes as thin as 0.1 millimeters (0.004 inches).

Printing Technology 

The choice of printing technology is crucial. Technologies like thermal printing, laser etching, and high-resolution inkjet printing can create thin and precise barcodes.

Barcode Standards

Different industries have specific barcode standards that may dictate the minimum size and thickness of barcodes. For example, GS1, a global standards organization for barcodes, sets guidelines for barcode dimensions to ensure readability and consistency.

As technology continues to advance, the limits of barcode thinness will likely be pushed further, offering new possibilities for efficiency and data accuracy across various industries. We hope our article has now left you with a better understanding of the limits of how thin barcodes can be and the factors influencing their sizes.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our article on 2D vs 3D barcodes or our article on how to use a barcode scanner.

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