Unlike traditional 2 of 5 formats that only use bars to encode information, Matrix 2 of 5 is interleaved, meaning it uses both bars and spaces to encode information. Each digit is encoded in either five bars, two of which are wide and three of which are narrow, or five spaces which have a similar wide/narrow ratio. Digits are encoded in pairs so that five bars and five spaces create a set of two digits. A zero is often added if no first digit is required. This barcode format only supports numeric characters 0-9.
There are six key elements in Matrix 2 of 5 barcodes:
- A Leading Quiet Zone at Least 10x the Width of a Narrow Bar
- One Start Character
- All Data Characters
- One Stop Character
- A Trailing Quiet Zone
- An Optional Check Digit Based on the Modulo 10 (Mod 10) Algorithm
Matrix 2 of 5 barcodes may also contain human-readable text underneath the barcode itself, but this is not a requirement.