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7 Tips for Using 1D and 2D Barcodes in Documents

If you’re planning to (or already do) use barcodes to efficiently process and store document images, you’re thinking about the ways you can make barcode recognition as easy, fast, and accurate as possible. Regardless of whether you’re using 1D or 2D barcodes, or whether you’re using barcodes to auto-index documents, process forms, or track inventory, there are plenty of ways to optimize your barcode scanning and decoding.

Here are seven ways to get the most out of your barcodes:

  1. Pixels per element

    To produce the most readable 1D barcodes, create barcodes with at least three pixels as the minimum bar width. For 2D barcodes, aim for modules to be 4 or 5 pixels.

  2. Variable-length data

    Don’t allow barcodes to be automatically generated with unlimited length data. You won’t be able to guarantee the overall barcode size required for accurate recognition if more and more elements get squeezed into a fixed area. If you require variable-length data, be sure to set a limit on the maximum size of each field.

  3. Avoid skewed input

    In most cases, higher skew angles reduce barcode recognition accuracy. Whenever possible, take steps to reduce skew. This may involve routine maintenance of input devices, using better sheet-fed scanners, deskewing barcodes as separate regions of interest on a form, or simply placing a box on your forms to help operators align manual barcode stickers. But, if you are stuck with a skewed image, remember that electronic deskew will sometimes decrease accuracy, not improve it.

  4. Specify cleanup

    Experiment to determine the optimal cleanup features for the types of damage your document images usually experience. This could be SmoothZoom, dilation, deskewing the barcode’s region of interest, or an algorithm that tries each and compares decode confidence.

  5. Optimize performance

    If you’re processing a lot of barcodes, there are plenty of options which could significantly increase performance. Try limiting scanning to either horizontal or vertical (if you only expect one orientation), limiting the number of expected barcodes per document, utilizing the multi-threading capabilities of Barcode Xpress, and searching only the pages or areas on the page where barcodes are found.

  6. Know thy image

    The more you can predict about the images containing barcodes, the better you can optimize their recognition. If you know the number, type, resolution, rotation, and placement of barcodes, you can use some of the tools mentioned above to speed recognition. This may also suggest locking down your business process to reduce variation. Using cues about the image can allow you to optimize cleanup and improve recognition speed and accuracy.

  7. Test, test, test

    Try to simulate the expected business process that document images will experience on the way to your system. If the documents will be faxed twice, fax some samples three or four times, then validate. If they’ll be printed, copied, and scanned, at least repeat all of the expected steps on the worst acceptable hardware in your system.

Accusoft’s Barcode Xpress can distinguish over 30 1D and 2D barcode types and is capable of multi-threading as an optimization strategy.

Have more helpful tips to ensure barcodes are processed as quickly, efficiently, and accurately as possible? Have questions about these best practices? Share below in the comments!