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Barcode Glossary



Access Point

Provides a bridge between Ethernet wired LANs and the wireless network. Access points are the connectivity point between Ethernet wired networks and devices (laptops, hand-held computers, point-of-sale terminals) equipped with a wireless LAN adapter card.


The determination of whether any element width or inter-character gap width (if applicable) differs from its nominal width by more than the printing tolerance.

Active Tags

Tags that use batteries as a partial or complete source of power to boost the effective operating range of the tag and to offer additional features over passive tags, such as temperature sensing.


Automated Data Collection or Automated Data Capture – refers to all technologies that automate the process of data collection without the use of a keyboard, including bar code, magnetic stripe, (OCR) optical card reader, voice recognition, smart card, or (RFID) radio frequency identification. ADC provides a quick, accurate, and cost-effective way to collect and enter data.


(1) A substance (cement, glue, gum) capable of holding materials together by surface contact. (2) The portion of a pressure sensitive label which allows the label to cling to its intended surface.


Automotive Industry Action Group – a trade association responsible for creating automotive industry standards pertaining to bar code symbology and common label formats.


Automatic Identification Manufacturers, Inc. – a U.S. trade association headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA who represent the manufacturers of automatic identification systems.


In an automatic identification system (Auto ID), the relative position and orientation of a scanner to the symbol.


A character set consisting of letters, numbers, and usually other characters such as special symbols.


A representation that is similar to (or Analogous to) the original. For example, the height of the colored bar on a thermometer is analogous to the amount of heat; the hotter it is, the higher the colored bar.

Analog phone

Comes from the word “analogous,” which means similar to. In telephone transmission, the signal being transmitted from the phonevoice, video or imageis analogous to the original signal.


American National Standards Institute – a non-governmental organization responsible for the development of voluntary bar code quality standards. Bar code printing standards and the readability of bar code symbols are determined and classified into grades from A to F, to provide an overall symbol quality test.


A device that conducts electromagnetic energy. In RFID, an antenna radiates energy in the radio frequency spectrum to and from the RFID tag.


Transmits and receives radio waves off the front of the antenna. The power behind and to the sides of the antenna is reduced. The coverage area is oval with the antenna at one of the narrow ends. Typical directional antenna beam width angles are from 90 (somewhat directional) to as little as 20(very directional). A directional antenna directs power to concentrate the coverage pattern in a particular direction. The antenna direction is specified by the angle of the coverage pattern called the beam width.


Transmits and receives radio waves in all directions. The coverage area is circular with the antenna at the center. Omni-directional antennas are also referred to as whip or low-profile antennas.


The opening on an optical system (scanner) that establishes the field of view.


Peer-to-peer networking services in an IBM SNA network.


Software by Apple Computer that enables a Macintosh computer to function as file a server.

AppleShare PC

Software by Apple Computer that enables MS-DOS based personal computers to access an AppleTalk network.


A local area operating system by Apple Computer. It is built into Macintosh and Apple IIGS computers.


The particular use the label, tag, or ticket will serve once the barcode, text, or graphic image is applied.

Application Temperature

The temperature at the time the label is applied.


A popular local area network that uses token passing passing over a star topology of coaxial cable, twisted pair, or optical fiber.


American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A common code for representing alphanumeric characters in computers.


Asynchronous Transfer Mode. A type of high-speed wide area network.

Auto-ID Center

A non-profit organization which led the development of a global network for tracking goods academia, that pioneered the development of an Internet-like infrastructure for using RFID to track goods globally.

Automatic Identification

The broad term which encompasses bar coding, RFID, and other electronic technologies that electronically identify and track goods.



The main trunk of a network communication channel.


Used on a thermal transfer ribbon to prevent the ribbon from sticking to the printhead and to the substrate (media/label material). It also protects the printhead from excessive heat, static, and abrasion.


The spaces, quiet zones, and areas surrounding a printed symbol.


The range of frequencies in which signals are transmitted.


The difference between the highest and lowest frequencies used for a communication channel. Generally, more bandwidth means greater transmission capacity.

Bandwidth Management

Functionality that allocates and manages RF traffic by preventing unwanted frames from being processed by the access point.


The darker element of a printed bar code symbol.

Bar Code

A bar code is a piece of Automatic Identification Technology (Auto ID) that stores real time data. It is a series of vertical bars or a graphical bar pattern which can, (depending on the width and pattern) encode numbers and letters in a format which can easily be retrieved and interpreted by a bar code reader.

Bar Code Character

A single group of bars and stripes that represents a specific quantity (often one) of numbers, letters, punctuation marks, or other symbols. This is the smallest subset of a bar code symbol that contains data.

Bar Code Density

The number of characters that can be represented in a linear unit of measure. This number is often expressed in characters per inch or cpi.

Bar Height/Length

The bar dimension perpendicular to the bar width. Also called bar height. Scanning is performed in an axis perpendicular to the bar length

Bar Width

The thickness of a bar measured from the edge closest to the symbol start character to the trailing edge of the same bar.

Baud rate

The maximum number of signal pulses that a communication line can handle per second. Higher baud rates indicate greater transmission capacities.

Baudot code

A telecommunication code (representing alphanumeric characters) that predated ASCII. Baudot code was developed for use in telegraphy.


Broadcast frames; Multicast frames


Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code. A code for representing alphanumeric characters in computers.


A uniframe system packet broadcast by the AP to keep the network synchronized. A beacon Includes the Net_ID (ESSID), the AP address, the Broadcast destination addresses, a time stamp, a DTIM (Delivery Traffic Indicator Maps) and the TIM (Traffic Indicator Message).

BFA Antenna Connector

Miniature coaxial antenna connector manufactured by MuRata Manufacturing Corporation.


Bar code symbology capable of being read successfully independent of scanning direction.


In RFID, a tag that can be read or written from either side.


A numbering system that uses only 1’s and 0’s.


The smallest unit of data representation in a computer. Can represent 0 or 1.

Bitmapped Font

Refers to the inherent character and font sets found within a thermal printer and their respective ability to be adjusted and “shrunk to fit”. Bitmapped fonts are commonly available in limited point sizes, for example 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 18 point, whose edges can become distorted or rough with manipulation outside the prescribed point size ranges.


See Wireless Personal Area Networks.


Bits per second. A unit of measurement for data transfer rates.


An internetworking device that connects two similar networks.


An internetworking device that functions as a router for protocols that it understands, and as a bridge for those that it does not.


A segment of computer memory used to hold data while it is being processed.


A main communication channel to which devices connect.


Eight bits. A byte can represent whole numbers from 0 to 255. Typically, one byte holds a single character.



Continuously Aware Mode: Mode in which the adapter is instructed to continually check for network activity.


The amount of information that can be programmed into a tag. This may represent the bits accessible to the user or the total number including those reserved to the manufacturer e.g. parity or control bits.

Card and Socket Services

Packages that work with the host computer operating system, enabling the Wireless LAN adapter to interface with host computer configuration and power management functions.


Consultative Committee for International Telephony and Telegraphy. An international standards organization.


The Code Division Multiple Access and Time Division Multiple Access standard for wireless communications on wide area networks (WANs) in North America.

Cellular Phone

Low-powered, duplex, radio/telephone that operates between 800 and 900 MHz, using multiple transceiver sites linked to a central computer for coordination. The sites, or “cells,” cover a range of one to six or more miles in each direction.

Central processing

A networking strategy in which processing occurs at a host, not at workstations.


Business telephone service offered by a local telephone company from a local telephone company office. Centrex is basically a single line phone system leased to businesses as a substitute for a business that is buying or leasing its own on-premises phone system or PBX.


(1) A single group of bars and spaces that represents a specific number (usually one) of numbers, letters, punctuation marks, or other symbols. (2) A graphic shape representing a letter, numeral, or symbol. (3) A letter, digit, or other symbol that is used as part of the organization, control, or representation of data.

Character Alignment

The vertical or horizontal position of characters with respect to a given set of reference lines.

Character Density

Within a linear bar code symbol, the number of data characters per unit length (typically per inch). For a discrete symbology, the character width must include the intercharacter gap

Character Font

Refers to the range and variety of data characters available within a given thermal printer model, for example 7 Bitmapped fonts type A,B,C,D,E,F and 1 Scaleable font.

Character Set

(1)A range of data characters (alpha, numeric, and/or punctuation) that can be encoded into any given symbology. (2) Refers to the international characters and graphic symbols available within a given thermal printer model, for example IBM® Code Page 850.

Check Character/Digit

A mechanically calculated number included within a string of data whose value is used for the purpose of performing a mathematical check to ensure that the bar code message is scanned and read correctly.

Circuit switching

A temporary connection created by connecting two or more communication channels. An example of this is the public switched telephone system.

CISC Processor

Complex Instruction Set Computer Processor – the x86 and Pentium families use CISC processors that process complex instructions requiring less instructions per operation resulting in faster performance. However, the performance efficiency of a RISC processor can sometimes be affected by the software installed in the machine as newer, more complex software versions contain more instructions that the processor needs to process


A network node that uses services provided by a server.


A network in which some nodes provide special services, such as printing and file sharing, for other nodes.


A network system design in which a processor or computer designated as a server (such as a file server or database server) provides services to other client processors or computers.


Access is not available. For example a “closed network architecture” is one that does not enable other systems to interconnect.

Cluster controller

A device that provides a connection between several devices (such as terminals and printers) and a host.

Coaxial cable

A data-transmission medium that contains a single conductor surrounded by a metal shield.


A barcode symbology that uses four bars and three spaces to represent the numbers 0 through 9 and a set of special characters.

Code 11

A barcode symbology developed by Intermec. It uses 11 characters: 0 through 9 and -.

Code 128

Code 128 is an alphanumeric bar code specifically designed to reduce the amount of space the bar code occupies. Each printed character can have one of three different meanings, depending on which of three different character sets are employed. Code 128 can be recognized as the labeling standard for UCC/EAN 128, used as product identification for container and pallet levels of retail markets.

Code 16K

This symbol is a stack of from 2 to 16 rows

Code 39

Code 39 is the most commonly used bar code. It can encode both numbers and letters, which is ideal for most industrial and non-retail applications. The Automotive industry uses Code 39 as its standard for shipping container labels. If you are just beginning a bar code application of your own, we recommend using Code 39.

Code 49

Introduced in 1987 by the Intermec Corporation as a multi-row, continuous, variable length symbology. Code 49 was the first stacked (two dimensional) barcode to receive widespread interest.

Code 93

Code 93 is the complementary version of Code 39 and allows labels to be approximately 30 percent shorter than Code 39.


A COde/DECode device that enables analog data to be transmitted over digital lines.


A process by which information is transferred between at least two parties.

Communication channel

The medium through which information is transmitted.

Communications server

A specialized network node that provides clients with access to communications capabilities. A typical example is a computer that provides other nodes with access to a shared modem.

Computer Telephony Integration

Technology that integrates computer intelligence with making, receiving, and managing telephone calls. Computer telephony integrates messaging, real-time connectivity, and transaction processing and information access.


The ability of a reading system to join together that data from multiple symbologies and interpret the information in a single message.


A media-access control strategy in which devices attempt to transmit when the channel is not being used by another device. If two devices attempt to transmit at the same time, the contention strategy requires that both devices temporarily stop transmitting until the channel is free again.

Continuous Bar Code

The end of each character in the bar code message marks the beginning of the next character; there are no intercharacter gaps to separate the characters in the bar code message, for example Interleaved 2 of 5 code.

Continuous Media

Label, ticket, or tag stock media that does not contain any notches, gaps, or holes between each label. The label length must be specified in the label program.


The difference in reflectance between the black and white (or bar and space) areas of a symbol.


See Multiplexer


Interference caused by “leaks” from a nearby communication channel.


Carrier Sense Multiple Access. A contention media-access strategy.


Data Communications Equipment

(DCE) Devices designed to manipulate transmitted data, for example a modem.

Data compression

A procedure that uses mathematical techniques to encode data so that it uses less space. In most cases, data must be decompressed into its original form to be usable.

Data encryption

A security procedure that encodes data so that it cannot easily be understood. To be usable, data must be decrypted into its original form by reversing the procedure that was used to encrypt it.

Data Terminal

Computer transmit and receive equipment, including a wide variety of dumb terminals or terminals without embedded intelligence in the form of programmed logic. Most data terminals provide a user interface to a more capable host computer, such as a mainframe or midrange computer.

Data Terminal Equipment

(DTE) A digital device such as a display terminal, data entry terminal, or printer which may be used to view or enter data. This device has a different communication connector pinout than DCE (see DCE).

Data Transfer Rate

The rate at which data are transferred between the reader and a tag, generally measured in bits per second (bps).

Database server

A network computer that specializes in retrieving and storing data, providing that service to clients.

De jure standard

A standard that exists through codes, laws, decrees, or other forms of legislation.


A network developed by Digital Equipment Corporation that connects DEC computers, PCs, and Macintoshes.


In a bar code reading system, the electronic package that receives signals from the scanner, performs the algorithm to interpret the signals into meaningful data, and provides the interface to other devices.


Decryption is the decoding and unscrambling of received encrypted data. The same device, host computer or front-end processor, usually performs both encryption and decryption.


See Character Density for details.

Depth of Field

The distance between the maximum and minimum plane in which a code reader is capable of reading symbols of a specified “X” dimension.

Desktop Conferencing

A telecommunications facility or service on a PC that permits callers from several diverse locations to be connected together for a conference call.

Diffuse Reflection

The component of reflected light that emanates in all directions from the reflecting surface.


A representation that uses discrete mathematical values to represent an object or amount. For example, a digital thermometer uses numbers to represent the relative amount of heat. (Compare with analog.)

Digital Phone System

Proprietary phone system provided by a vendor, such as AT&T, Mitel, Northern Telecom, and so on. The signal being transmitted in a digital phone system is the same as the signal being transmitted in an analog phone system. The system can consist of a proprietary PBX system that converts voice signals from their analog form to digital signals, and then converts those digital signals back to analog. Alternatively, the conversion from analog-to-digital can occur in a digital phone.

Direct Inward Dialing

DID. The ability for a caller outside a company to call an internal extension without having to pass through an operator or attendant. In large PBX systems, the dialed digits are passed from the PSTN to the PBX, which then completes the call.

Direct Thermal Labels

Chemically treat labels that image when heat is applied to a label. Image is not as durable the Thermal Transfeer Labels. In an optimal environment, Direct thermal labels can be readable for days or weeks.

Direct Thermal Print

(DT) Direct thermal printing is an old technology originally designed for low cost copiers and fax machines. It has since been transformed into a highly successful technology for bar coding. The thermal printhead is typically a long linear array of tiny resistive heating elements (100-300/inch) arranged perpendicular to the paper flow. Each thermal printhead element locally heats an area on the chemically coated paper directly under the print element. This induces a chemical reaction which causes a dot to form in that area. The image is formed by building it from dot rows as the media passes underneath the active edge of the printhead. Direct thermal printing is an excellent choice for many bar code labeling applications. DT printers provide simplicity and environmental economy (recyclable materials are also available). Direct thermal printers are simple to operate compared to most other print technologies—with no ribbons or toners to replenish—label loading is a very simple procedure. Enables batch or single label print capability with virtually no waste.

Direct-Sequence (DS) Spread Spectrum

Direct sequence transmits data by generating a redundant bit pattern for each bit of information sent. Commonly referred to as a “chip” or “chipping code,” this bit pattern numbers 10 chips to one per bit of information. Compared with frequency hopping, direct sequence has higher throughput, wider range and is upgradable in the 2.4GHz band.

Discrete Bar Code

Each character of the bar code message stands alone, separated by intercharacter gaps, and can be read independently from the others.

Diskless workstation

A networked computer that does not have local storage.

Distributed application

An application that runs on two or more networked computers.

Distributed processing

A system in which processing of applications stored on the network is done by client computers. “Distributed processing” is also sometimes used to refer to “distributed applications.”

Diversity Reception

The use of two antennas attached to a single access point to improve radio reception. The second antenna is used only for receiving radio signals, while the primary is used for both transmitting and receiving.


Digital Network Architecture. A network architecture developed by Digital Equipment Corporation.

Dot Matrix Printing

A print technology that employs several needles which are evenly spaced across a moveable horizontal shuttle which oscillates back and forth as the paper advances. Dot matrix printers print a bar code by creating overlapping adjacent dots to produce approximations of a straight edge line. Prints low to medium density bar codes that may not meet certain end-user guidelines. The dot size on the matrix printer limits the narrow element size and density of the bar code. Continuous ribbon re-use on dot matrix printers requires continuous monitoring of ribbon condition to ensure adequate bar code contrast. Ribbon ink that has become exhausted can produce an image that is inadequate for scanning. Ink saturated ribbon can result in paper “bleed” which can cause image distortion. Dot matrix printers are modified line printers that are most frequently used for printing batches of large labels with low density bar codes. Printing of single, individualized labels results in significant waste. The design of the matrix printer’s print carriage, sitting far below the media, also does not enable one to adequately maximize one’s label space.


Dots per inch (refer to Resolution)


Dynamic Random Access Memory – is one type of chip used in Random Access Memory. It stores information as an electrical charge. Because this charge dissipates over time, the computing device must periodically run a “refresh cycle” on the chips to recharge them—hence “dynamic”. As it is a type of RAM, it will lose its information when the device into which it is installed is turned off. Typically, the time required to access information with a DRAM scheme is greater than with SRAM. SRAM chips cannot be substituted for DRAM chips; the machine (e.g. printer) must have been designed to use SRAM.

Dumb terminal

An entry and display device that has no processing capability. Used in networks based on central processing.



Element Energy Equalizer (E3) – Zebra’s sophisticated method of ensuring that the correct amount of heat is delivered to each part of a printhead at all print speeds in order to optimize the quality of the bar codes that are produced.


The European Article Number is the European version of the UPC (Universal Product Code) bar code of retail food packaging that enables this linear bar code to be used internationally. Like the U.S. equivalent UPC code, there are two different types of EAN codes, EAN-8 and EAN-13.

EAN International

The international organization responsible for administering bar code standards.


EAN-13 has 13 characters or symbols. It is very much like the UPC code and has the 13th character as a means of identifying in what country the product will be used.


EAN-8 has a left-hand guard pattern, four odd parity digits, a center guard pattern, four even parity digits, and a right hand guard pattern with a total of eight symbols.


Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code. A common code for representing alphanumeric characters in computers.

Edge Roughness

Irregularities in the printing of bar code elements, resulting in a non-uniform edge and edge errors.


Electronic Data Interchange – a method by which data is electronically transmitted from one point to another.


Electronic Data Processing – the act of processing information electronically.


Electronic Industries Association – a trade association.

Electronic mail

Software that enables users to send correspondence through a computer network.

Electronic Product Code (EPC)

An identification standard created by the Auto-ID Center that provides additional information to existing bar codes. The EPC can identify manufacturers, product categories, and individual items. See also Auto-ID Center and Bar Code.


A method of printing that utilizes a special electrostatic paper or charged drum, both of which attract toner to the charged area.


A single bar or space in a bar code symbol.

Element-level Management

Level of technologies aimed at small or medium-sized businesses.


Entails scrambling and coding information, typically with mathematical formulas called algorithms, before the information is transmitted over a network.

EPC Discovery Service

A service from the EPCglobal Network that allows companies to search for every reader that has read a particular EPC tag. See also EPCglobal.

EPC Information Service

A network infrastructure of the EPC Network that allows companies to store EPC data in secure databases on the Web. Companies can set the level of information access for different types of organizations, from supply chain providers to manufacturers, to everyone.


A non-profit organization with the mission of commercializing EPC technology. The Uniform Code Council and EAN International, which set and maintain bar code standards in North America and internationally, set up EPCglobal.

EPCglobal Network (or EPC Network)

The Internet-based technologies and services designed for EPCs.


The abbreviation for erasable programmable Read Only Memory – (See ROM).


Enterprise Resource Planning – a term used to describe a new wave of integration system software capabilities designed to link a company’s respective operations—including human resources, financials, manufacturing, and distribution—with their customers and suppliers.

Error Rate

The number of errors divided by the number of transactions.


A popular local area network that uses a contention media-access method over a bus topology of coaxial cable. Also used to refer to the standard specified by IEEE 802.3.

European Article Numbering (EAN)

The bar code standard used throughout Europe, Asia, and South America, administered by EAN International.


Enterprise-wide network. A network that serves an entire organization. Implies interoperability of disparate computing platforms, such as MS-DOS, UNIX, OS/2, and Macintosh.


Face Material

See Facestock.


The part of the substrate (media) where printing occurs.


Federation of Automated Coding Technology – a bureau of AIM consisting of organizations that use and promote automatic identification among their members.

Factory Programming

The manufacturer’s setting on a read-only tag or chip or peripheral device.


Fiber Distributed Data Interface. Lower layers standard for networks based on optical fiber.


Front-end processor. A device that manages communication between a host and other devices.

Field Programming

The programming of information into a tag after shipment by the manufacturer, either by an OEM customer or end user. Field programming is often related to the tag’s target application.

File server

A node that provides other nodes with the access to shared storage.


Prevents user-defined frames from being processed by the access point.


Start up and input-output instructions “burned onto” a chip in RFID-enabled printers and other devices.

First Read Rate (FRR)

The ratio of the number of successful reads on the first scanning attempt to the number of attempts. Commonly expressed as a percentage and abbreviated as FRR.

Fixed Ratio

The ratio between the width of the bars in the code is a fixed standard and cannot be changed.

Flash Memory

Read/Writeable RAM (a.k.a. Non-Volatile RAM) This is a type of Random Access Memory chip that does not lose its contents when its power is turned off; however, it can be intentionally written to, read from, and intentionally erased. It is a type of RAM and, hence, interacts with the computer or processor as described under “RAM” except that it does not lose its contents when power is removed. The advantage of flash is best understood by example: A program or set of data could be stored into a computer or other machine at the place where the product is built. Of course, since flash won’t lose its contents even when it’s receiving no power, the product could be kept on the shelf with its memory loaded for a period of time before it’s put into service. While the product is in use, its flash chips cannot be accidentally reprogrammed, so the data or program that was stored in the product remains safely intact. At some point in the future, however, if the manufacturer of the product decided that there was a need to alter the data or the program, this could be done. The manufacturer would send to its customers a computer file containing the updated information. Along with the revised data or program would be a program for the product to use to erase the old data or program and read in the new information.

Flat Panel Antenna

Flat antennas that are generally made of metal plate or foil and embedded in a label or other material.

Flexographic Printing

The process whereby a pre-printed label, tag or ticket is printed by using a raised image plate surface to transfer wet ink to a printing substrate.

Flood Coat

A thin coating of ink applied to the top of printing screen by the flood bard or, in manual operations, by the squeegee prior to printing the stroke.


A cloth or plastic tape coated with several layers of material, one of which is inklike, that produces the visible marks on a substrate. Used on formed font impact, dot matrix, thermal transfer, and hot stamp printers. Also called a ribbon.

Fragmentation Threshold

The maximum size for directed data packets transmitted over the radio. Larger frames fragment into several packets this size or smaller before transmission over the radio. The receiving station reassembles the transmitted fragments.

Frame Mode

A communications protocol supported by the OEM Modules. The frame protocol implements asynchronous serial Point-to-Point (PPP) frames similar to those used by serial Internet protocols.

Frequency Hopping (FH) Spread Spectrum

Hedy Lamarr, the actress, is credited in name only for inventing frequency hopping during World War II. As its label suggests, frequency hopping transmits using a narrowband carrier that changes frequency in a given pattern. There are 79 channels in a 2.4GHz ISM band, each channel occupying 1MHz of bandwidth. A minimum hop rate of 2.5 hops per channel per second is required in the United States. Frequency hopping technology is recognized as superior to direct sequence in terms of echo resistance, interference immunity, cost and ease-of-installation. To date, there has also been a greater selection of WLAN products from which to chose.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol

A common Internet protocol used for transferring files from a server to the Internet user. It uses TCP/IP commands.


Gain, dBi

Antenna gain, expressed in decibels referenced to a half wave dipole.

Gain, dBic

Antenna gain, expressed in decibels referenced to a theoretical isotropic radiator that is circularly polarized.


Software that performs two important functions to maintain the robustness of the network: address translation and bandwidth management. Gatekeepers map LAN aliases to IP addresses and provide address lookups when needed.


A computer that interconnects disparate types of networks, translating protocols as necessary. For example, a gateway might connect personal computers on a LAN to a mainframe computer.


International unit for measuring frequency is Hertz (Hz), which is equivalent to the older unit of cycles per second. One Gigahertz (GHz) is one billion Hertz. Microwave ovens typically operate at 2.45 GHz.


Characteristic of the surface which causes it to reflect light at a given angle.


Government Open Systems Interconnection Profile. A United States government specification that requires government network purchases to be OSI-compliant.


Software that enables a group of users to collaborate on a project by means of network communications.


The Global System for Mobile Communications standard for worldwide wireless communications on wide area networks (WANs).

Guard Bars

Bars that are at both ends and center of a UPC and EAN symbol, that provide reference points for scanning. Guard bars are similar in function to start and stop characters.



An umbrella standard from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that addresses call control, multimedia management, and bandwidth management for point-to-point and multi-point conferences, as well as interfaces between LANs and other networks. The most popular standard currently in use.

Hand-Held Scanner

A hand-held scanning device used as a contact bar code reader or OCR (optical code) reader.


High-Level Data Link Control. A Data Link layer protocol.

Heat Resistance

The property of a material which inhibits the occurrence of physical or chemical changes caused by exposure to high temperatures.


Health Industry Business Communications Council – a trade association responsible for the symbology and label format used by the healthcare industry.

Hierarchical networks

A network in which a host controls network communications and processing.

High Density

This bar code type has narrow spaces and bars with an “X” dimension that is less than 7.5 mils.

High Frequency Tags

RFID systems that operate at 13.56 MHz with a typical maximum read range of up to 3 feet (1 meter).

Holding Power

The ability to withstand stress, as in holding rigid label materials on smaller diameter cylindrical objects or in holding weight.

Horizontal Bar Code

A bar code or symbol presented in such a manner that its overall length dimension is parallel to the horizon. The bars are presented in an array that looks like a picket fence.


Computer that controls network communication in a hierarchical network.


The interpretation of bar code data, often printed immediately below the bar code in a readable format to humans.



Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. A standards organization.

IEEE 802

Lower-layers standards for LANs set forth by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Impact Printing

Impact Printing, or dot matrix, is any printing system where a micro-processor-controlled hammer impacts against a ribbon and a substrate (label media).

Industry Standards

Created to encourage consistency across specific industries. Some of the more common standards are from the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), Electronic Industry Association (EIA), the Health Care Industry Bar Code (HCIB), and the UCC Retail Pallet Format.

Ink Jet Printing

Common direct marking process and a favorite on high speed production lines. Ink droplets are selectively deflected between a moving product and an ink return channel. Ink jet printing is frequently used for coding products and cartons with human readable data and lot codes at very high speed and for case coding of cartons with bar codes. Bar codes on corrugated boxes are intentionally made large so that dot placement accuracy becomes less critical, thus using more ink and creating questionable print quality and usefulness for bar coding.

Ink Layer

The bottom layer of a thermal ribbon which is composed of waxes, resins, or a combination of both.


RFID hardware mounted on label material. Inlays provide the RFID portion of “smart labels”. See also Smart Label.

Interactive Voice Response

System used to access a database access application using a telephone. The voice processing acts as a front-end to appropriate databases that reside on general purpose computers. For instance, DTMF (touch tone) input of a Personal Identification Number can be required for access or more unusual and expensive techniques such as voice recognition and voice print matching.

Interlabel Gap

The space, notch, or hole between labels used by the media sensor on the printer to determine the label length and top of form.

Interleaved 2-of-5

Interleaved 2-of-5 is a linear symbology that is most often used for encoding large amounts of information in a small area. Characters are paired together using bars to represent the first character and spaces to represent the second. Interleaved 2-of-5 bar code applications are prevalent in the electronics and manufacturing areas.

International Roaming

Ability to use one adapter worldwide.

International Standards Organization (ISO)

An international association that manages the process of setting global standards for communications and information exchange.


A global network that incorporates networks belonging to the United States government, academic institutions, and other organizations.

Internet Commerce

Electronic business transactions that occur over the Internet. Samples of Internet commerce applications include electronic banking, airline reservation systems, and Internet malls.

Internet Phone

Device used to transmit voice over the Internet, bypassing the traditional PSTN and saving money in the process. An Internet phone can be a small phone (such as the NetVision Phone) or a multimedia PC with a microphone, speaker, and modem.


The ability of disparate systems to share network resources.


A private network that uses Internet software and Internet standards. In essence, an intranet is a private Internet reserved for use by people who have been given the authority and passwords necessary to use that network.

Inventory Control

Applications where bar coding and other forms of AIDC are used to add or delete items from inventory with 100% accuracy.

IP (Internet Protocol)

The Internet standard protocol that defines the Internet datagram as the unit of information passed across the Internet. Provides the basis of the Internet connection-less- best-effort packet delivery service. The Internet protocol suite is often referred to as TCP/IP because IP is one of the two fundamental protocols.


Inches per second (refer to Print Speed).


Infrared Data Association (1) A trade association. (2) A scanning technology that utilizes electromagnetic radiation wavelengths longer than those of visible light and shorter than those of microwaves.


Integrated Services Digital Network. Emerging network technology offered by local phone companies that is designed for digital communications, computer telephony, and voice processing systems.

ISM Band

ISM bands–instrumental (902-928MHz), science (2.4-2.4835GHz), and medical (5.725-5.850GHz)–are the radio frequency bands allocated by the FCC for unlicensed continuous operations for up to 1W. The most recent band approved by the FCC for WLANs was the medical band in January 1997.


International Standards Organization.


International Telecommunications Union. Standards body that defined H.323 and other international standards.



Noise on a communications line which is based on phase hits, causing potential phase distortions and bit errors.



Kilobits per second; how many thousands of bits of data can be transferred in one second.


A widely deployed security protocol that was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to authenticate users and clients in a wired network environment and to securely distribute encryption keys.

Key Telephone System

A system in which the telephone has multiple buttons permitting the user to directly select central office phone lines and intercom lines. Key phone systems are most often found in relatively small business environments, typically around 50 telephones.


Label Thickness

Denotes the ideal range of media/substrate thickness designed to promote optimum print quality and printer performance.

Label, Pressure Sensitive

A pressure-sensitive label product is a die-cut part that has been converted through the production equipment using the type of pressure-sensitive material that has a protective backing. The end product is produced in the form of rolls, sheets, fanfold, or by other techniques that produce like products which have been slit or cut from the converted roll.

Label, Transparent

A pressure-sensitive label whose face material, adhesive, and protective coatings transmit light so that objects can be seen through it.

Ladder Orientation

A bar code symbol positioned vertically with horizontal bars and spaces.


To apply one layer of material over another.


Local area network. A network that is limited to a small geographic area.

Laser Printing

The laser printer works much like a photocopier, projecting controlled streams of ions onto the surface of a print drum resulting in a charged image. The charged image then selectively attracts toner particles, transferring the image onto the paper substrate (media) by means of pressure. The pressure from the printhead and drum then fuse the image to the paper, creating the image. A laser printed label is only as durable as a photocopy of paper. Laser printers commonly cannot produce chemical- or water-resistant labels. Laser printer labeling adhesives must be carefully selected to ensure stability under the heat and pressure of the fuser. Laser printers are not well suited for industrial labeling applications or individual product labeling applications. Compatible toners for thermal printing applications are often times lacking. Cost of toner is significant for bar code printing—15-30% black for bar code print versus 5% black for word processing print; 6 times the cost for bar coding using laser when compared to direct thermal or thermal transfer!

Laser Scanner

An optical bar code reading device using a low-energy laser light beam as its source of illumination.


A protocol that interacts with other protocols as part of an overall transmission system.

Leased line

A communication channel provided by a common carrier for a fee.

License Plate

A term that denotes a simple RFID technique that carries only a serial number on tags. The serial number is associated with information in a database.

Light Pen

A hand-held pen-like contact reader which the user must sweep across the bar code symbol in order to read the code. Also referred to as a wand

Linear Bar Code / Symbology

A complete bar code message is expressed in a single line of bars—also commonly referred to as a 1-Dimensional bar code.


The component of a label used to protect the adhesive and to keep it from sticking to objects before the label is used. It readily separates from the label immediately before the label is applied to the substrate. Also referred to as release liner, backing paper, or release paper.


A lower-layers protocol developed by Apple Computer.


A Department of Defense (DoD) project on LOGistics applications of Marking and Reading Symbols resulted in the production of a new standard (MIL-STD-1189A) that led to the development of Code 39 as the established bar code symbology to be used by all DoD vendors.

Low Density

This bar code type has bars and spaces that are wide and far apart with an “X” dimension greater than 20 mils. This type of bar code is used for scanning bar codes from further distances.

Low Frequency Tags

RFID systems that operate at about 125 kHz with a typical maximum read range of up to 20 inches (508 mm).

LPD (Line Printer Daemon)

A TCP-based protocol typically used between a Unix server and a printer driver. Data is received from the network connection and sent out over the serial port.

LU 6.2

Another name for APPC



Media-Access Control. Portion of the Data Link layer that controls access to the communication channel.

MAC (Media Access Control)

Part of the Data Link Layer, as defined by the IEEE, this sublayer contains protocols for gaining orderly access to cable or wireless media.


A general term used for printed material that can be directly transferred to a data processing system.

Mainframe computer

Large-scale computer, such as those produced by IBM, Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data, and Honeywell. Typically mainframe computers function as hosts in a hierarchical network.


Municipal Area Network or Metropolitan Area Network. A medium-to high-speed network that spans an entire city or municipal area.

Manufacturer’s ID

In the UPC code, the 6-digit number applied by the UCC to uniquely identify a manufacturer or company selling products under its own name. Also, the first 6 digits of the 12-digit UPC.

Matrix Symbols

Appear as a checker board. They are most likely square in shape, and contain some form of “finder pattern” which distinguishes them from other symbols. The finder pattern provides a decoding reference for scanners.


An example of a company which uses the Maxicode bar code is United Parcel Service (UPS). The next time you receive a package from UPS, look for a very small square with a pattern of dots and a small bulls eye in the center. UPS uses these bar codes as a way to sort their packages for a specific destination.

MD5 Encryption

An authentication methodology when MU is in foreign subnet.


(1) The term which refers to the label, tag, and/or ticket and its respective ribbon combination. (2) The surface on which a bar code symbol is printed. Also, interchangeably, referred to as substrate

Media Roll Capacity

Refers to the maximum/minimum media roll diameter that a thermal printer can accommodate, for example 5.0” O.D. (Outer Diameter) and 1.0” I.D. (Inner Diameter).


Media-Access Control Portion of the Data Link layer that method controls access to the communication channel.


Zebra thermal printers contain a variety of memory options, including RAM, ROM, DRAM, SRAM, and Flash. For detailed descriptions of each memory option, refer to each herein by abbreviated name.


Network architecture in which each node has a dedicated connection to all other nodes.


A chunk of data that is transmitted over a network.

Message switching

A strategy that enables communication channels to be used simultaneously be more than one node. At each transfer point in the connection, incoming data is stored in its entirety, then forwarded to the next point. This process continues until the data reaches its destination.


Message Handling Service. An electronic mail protocol developed by Action Technologies, Inc.

MIB (Management Information Base)

An SNMP structure that describes the specific device being monitored by the remote-monitoring program.


A bounded physical space in which a number of wireless devices can communicate. Because it is possible to have overlapping cells as well as isolated cells, the boundaries of the cell are established by some rule or convention.


The narrowest nominal width unit of measure in a bar code.


A mid-sized computer that can function as a workstation or a multi-user system.


A condition that occurs when the data output of a reader does not agree with the data encoded in the bar code symbol.

MMCX Antenna Connector

Miniature coaxial antenna connector in use by several major wireless vendors.

Mobile IP

The ability of the mobile unit to communicate with the other host using only its home IP address, after changing its point of attachment to the Internet and intranet.

Mobile Unit (MU)

May be a Symbol Spectrum24 terminal, PC Card and PCI adapter, bar-code scanner, third-party device, and other

Mobile Unit Mode

In this mode, the WLAN adapter connects to an access point (AP) or another WLAN installed system, allowing the device to roam freely between AP cells in the network. Mobile units appear as network nodes to other devices.


MOdulate/DEModulate device that enables digital data to be transmitted over analog lines.


The narrowest nominal width unit of measure in a bar code symbol.

Moving Beam Bar Code Reader

A scanning device where scanning motion is achieved by mechanically or electronically moving the optical geometry.


Barcode symbology made up of 4 bars and 4 spaces representing the characters 0 through 9.


The signal variation caused when radio signals take multiple paths from transmitter to receiver.

Multipath Fading

A type of fading caused by signals taking different paths from the transmitter to the receiver and, consequently, interfering with each other.


An electronic device used to support multiple scanners or antennas. Multiplexers essentially manage RFID traffic. Sometimes spelled “multiplexor”.


The ability of a reader or other RFID device to read many individual tags at the same time.



A network-transport protocol introduced by IBM.


A collection of hardware and software that enables a group of computers to communicate and provide users with access to shared resources.

Network adapter

A device that enables a computer to attach to a network.

Network architecture

A description of how communication occurs within a specific type of network.

Network segment

An uninterrupted length of the network communication channel. For example, a single cable between two repeaters, bridges, or routers is a segment.

Network-only application

A software program that runs only on, or is useful only on a network.


The National Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers – a trade association.


A network-access point. Examples include terminals and computers.


Extrinsic signals that corrupt a data transmission. Noise can come from crosstalk and other forms of electromagnetic interference.


The exact or ideal intended value for a specified parameter. Tolerances are specified as positive or negative values from this specified value.

Nominal Range

The normal range at which a system can operate reliably, under normal conditions.

Non-Contact Reader

Bar code readers which do not require physical contact with the printed symbol.

Non-Continuous Media

Label, tag, or ticket which contains either a gap, notch, or hole between each label.


The absence of data at the scanner output after an attempted scan due to no code, defective code, scanner failure, or operator error.


Network Operating System.

Null Modem Connector

A device which connects to the serial output of a print cable and switches pins 2 and 3, transmitted data signal, and received data signal.


A character set that includes only numbers.



An abbreviation commonly applied to the character set contained in ANSI Standard X3.17-1981. A stylized font choice used for traditional OCR printing.


The European equivalent of AIAG. See AIAG for further details.


Bar codes which can be read in any orientation in relation to the scanner.


A term used to describe when labels are printed immediately when the customer needs them and are ready for use, versus being sent off-site for printing.

One-Dimensional Bar Code

A complete bar code message is expressed in a single line of bars. Also commonly referred to as a linear barcode


Access is available. For example, an “open network architecture” is one that enables other systems to interconnect.

Operating Temperature

Denotes the prescribed temperature range for the safe operation of a thermal printer.

Optical fiber

A glass conduit that transmits data encoded in light signals.


The alignment of a bar code symbol with respect to horizontal. Two possible orientations are horizontal and vertical bars and spaces (picket fence formation), and vertical with horizontal bars and stripes (ladder formation).


Open Systems Interconnection. A proto-type for network communication that promotes interconnectivity.


The fixed number of characters required for start, stop, and checking in a given bar code symbol—a symbol requiring a start and stop character and two check characters contains four characters of overhead. To encode three characters with the overhead listed, seven characters are required to print.


Packet switching

A strategy that enables communication channels to be used simultaneously by more than one node. Before messages are transferred, they are divided into small chunks called packets, that fit easily into memory (unlike message switching, in which entire messages are moved, thus requiring storage for large messages). At the destination, the packets are reassembled into the original message.

Parallel Interface

A link between data processing devices on which the data moves over multiple wires and more quickly than serial interface. Imagine transmitting all 8 letters in a word at the same time over each wire. In parallel interface, the 8 bits (a byte) are received and then processed simultaneously. A common parallel interface option is Centronics® (36 pin) parallel.

Parity Character

An optional character which may be included in the bar code message to minimize the misreading of the message.

Passive Tags

The most common RFID tags, in which a reader transmits an energy field that “wakes up” the tag and provides the power for the tag to operate.


Private branch exchange. A privately owned telephone system typically confined within a single building or campus.

PCS (Personal Communications Service)

A new, lower powered, higher-frequency competitive technology to cellular. Whereas cellular typically operates in the 800-900 MHz range, PCS operates in the 1.5 to 1.8 GHz range. The idea with PCS is that the phone are cheaper, have less range, and are digital. The cells are smaller and closer together, and airtime is cheaper.


A popular two-dimensional bar code that allows thousands of characters to be stored in its data format of multi-stacks. Some states use this type of bar code for driver’s license information. Healthcare facilities may also use the PDF417 for patient records because of the amount of data it can store.


Relationship between network devices.


Communication between two network devices that have the same status on the network.

Peer-to-peer Network

A network design in which each computer shares and uses devices on an equal basis.


A pen-like device used to read bar codes. It can be connected either by wire to a device or be self-contained. Requires direct contact with the symbol.


Refers to the ability of a particular radio frequency to pass through packaging and other materials.


A measure of an adhesive’s ultimate holding power or bond strength. A permanent adhesive will develop a bond that makes label removal difficult or impossible without distorting the facestock.

Permanent Adhesive

An adhesive characterized by relatively high ultimate adhesion, but which can be removed. The degree of force used overcomes its bonding ability.

Personal computer (Or microcomputer.)

A relatively small single-user computer.

Picket Fence Orientation

A bar code symbol positioned horizontally with vertical bars and spaces.

Piggyback Label

A pressure-sensitive label which allows for dual usage. The construction consists of facestock, adhesive, and liner.


A troubleshooting TCP/IP application that sends out a test message to a network device to measure the response time.


Refers to the rotation of a bar code symbol about an axis parallel to the direction of the bars.

PLD (Data Link Protocol)

A raw packet protocol based on the Ethernet frame format. All frames are sent to the wireless network verbatim–should be used with care as improperly formatted data can go through with undesirable consequences.

Plessey Code

A pulse-width modulated bar code commonly used for shelf marking in grocery stores.

Plug and Play

A feature that allows a computer to recognize the PCI adapter and configure the hardware interrupt, memory, and device recognition addresses; requires less user interaction and minimizes hardware conflicts.

Point of Sale (POS)

Refers to bar code related retail applications occurring at the point of sale.

Point-of-Sale Device

A special type of equipment that is used to collect and store retail sales data. This device may be connected to a bar code reader and it may query a central computer for the current price of that item.


A media-access-control strategy in which a controlling computer mediates access to the communication channel.


A strong film having good resistance to moisture, solvents, oils, and many other chemicals. Usually transparent, although available with metalized finish. Often used in the creation of Zebra media.


A tough, sturdy plastic film having very good, low temperature characteristics. Often used in the creation of Zebra media.


Similar to polyethylene but stronger, with a higher temperature resistance. Often used in the creation of Zebra media.

Postnet Code

A height modulated, numeric symbology developed by the U.S. Postal Service. This linear symbology that uses 5 bars and 4 spaces to encode each digit is unique in that the bars are of different heights to accommodate the fast printing process required by the post office as well as its resistance to smearing.


Plain Old Telephone Service. The analog voice telephone network provided by common carriers.

POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)

The basic service supplying standard single line telephones, telephone lines, and access to the public switched telephone network.

Power Levels

A measure of the amount of RF energy radiated from a reader or active tag, usually measured in volts/meter.

Power Management

Algorithms that allow the adapter to sleep between checking for network activity, thus conserving power.

Pre-Printed Symbol

A symbol that is printed in advance of application either on a label or on the article to be identified.

Pressure Sensitive Label

A pressure sensitive label product is a die-cut part that has been converted through the production equipment using the type of pressure sensitive material that has a protective backing. The end product is produced in the form of rolls, sheets, fanfold, or by other techniques that produce like products which have been slit or cut from the converted roll.

Print Length

Refers to the minimum and maximum label length a printer can print with standard or added memory capacity.

Print Method

Denotes the print technology used to print a label – commonly direct thermal or thermal transfer variety.

Print Quality

The measure of compliance of a bar code symbol to the requirements of dimensional tolerance, edge roughness, spots, voids, reflectance, PCS, quiet zone, and encodation.

Print Speed

The speed at which the label moves through the printhead, measured in inches per second (ips).

Print Width

Denotes the printhead width and the corresponding maximum label width on which a thermal printer can optimally print.


The device used to generate smart labels. They both print bar-coded labels and encode RFID tags embedded in the labels. See also Smart Label.

Product ID

In the UPC code, the 5-digit number assigned by a manufacturer to every consumer unit in its product catalog. The Product ID is different for every standard package (consumer unit) of the same product.


The ability to enter and store data into a tag.


Adding information to or changing information stored in a tag.


A code or set of rules by which communication is initiated, maintained, and terminated.

PSP (Power Save Polling)

Stations power off their radios for long periods. When a mobile unit in PSP mode associates with an access point, it notifies the AP of its activity status. The AP responds by buffering packets received for the MU.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)

Refers to the worldwide voice telephone network accessible to all those with telephones and access privileges. In the U.S., the PSTN is provided by AT&T.

Pure network application

(Same as network only application.) A software program that runs only on, or is useful only on a network.


QoS (Quality of Service)

Measure of the telephone service quality provided to a subscriber. QoS refers to things like: Is the call easy to hear? Is it clear? Is it loud enough?

QR Code

A two-dimensional bar code developed for use in Japan that permits the encoding of binary, Kanji, JIS, and alphanumeric information.

Quality Control

Applications that use automatic identification to make sure the right material is in stock so it can be delivered for the right cost to the right user at the right time.

Quiet Zone

Bar code message overhead, which is an area to the left and to the right of the bar code symbol and is free of printing. This area provides the scanning device time to adjust to the measurements of each bar code in the message.


Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

A method of transmitting information using radio waves. RFID systems typically consist of a tag that contains information identifying an item or specifying a condition or state. A reader communicates with the tag and reads the information programmed into its memory.


The distance at which a tag can be successfully read or written to by the reader.

RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Company)

One of the seven Bell operating companies set up after the divestiture of AT&T, each of which own two or more Bell Operating Companies (BOCs).


The process of retrieving the information stored on an RFID tag.

Read Only

See Factory Programming.

Read Range

The distance from which a reader can communicate with a tag.

Read Rate

The maximum rate at which data can be read from a tag, generally expressed in bits per second (bps).


Refers to tags that can receive new data while they are attached to product, such as tags that store a record of shipment information.


Refers to the ability of a reader to obtain data from a tag, generally under difficult conditions.


The device that retrieves information from tags using radio waves. Readers generally receive data from tags and transmit data to host computers or peripheral devices, such as a printer.


A device that can both retrieve information from a tag and write information to a tag.

Real time

A transmission or transaction that occurs immediately or in an extremely short period of time. A telephone conversation occurs in real time; correspondence through mail does not.


The component on the “hearing” end of a transmission.


The ratio of the amount of light of a specified wavelength or series of wavelengths reflected from a test surface, to the amount of light reflected from a barium oxide or magnesium oxide standard.


Variation from label to label, of the position of what is printed onto the label as measured from the edges of the label.

Release Liner (Backing)

The portion of the pressure sensitive label which supports and holds the facestock and adhesive until application to the intended surface is needed.

Removable Adhesive

An adhesive characterized by relatively high cohesion strength and low ultimate adhesion. It can be removed easily from most substrate surfaces. Some adhesive transfer could take place, depending on the affinity of the adhesive to the surface.


A device that connects two network segments to make them work as one. Repeaters can extend the length of a network beyond the physical limitations of a single cable.


Adhesive left on a substrate when a decal is removed.


The narrowest element dimension that can be distinguished by a particular reading device or printed with a particular device or method. Generally the higher the resolution the better the resultant print quality. Measured in dots per inch (dpi).


RFID stands for radio frequency identification.

RFID tag

RFID tags consist of an integrated circuit (IC) attached to an antenna—typically a small coil of wires—plus some protective packaging (like a plastic card) as determined by the application requirements.


A cloth or plastic tape coated with several layers of material, one of which is ink-like, that produces the visible marks on the substrate. Used on formed font impact, dot matrix, thermal transfer, and hot stamp printers. Also called foil.


A network topology that connects network devices in a continuous loop.

RISC Processor

Reduced Instruction Set Computer Processor – reducing the number of instructions that a CPU supports will reduce the complexity of the chip, thus enhancing performance. However, the time it takes to fetch, decode, and execute the instruction may take longer than executing more code on a CISC processor. Examples of the RISC processors are the Hitachi SH1 and SH2. Also, the PowerPC uses RISC architecture.


Movement of a wireless node between two microcells. Roaming usually occurs in infrastructure networks built around multiple access points.


A device that connects networks and can determine the best path for data when there are multiple paths.


Scaleable Fonts

Refers to the inherent character and font sets found within a thermal printer and their respective ability to be adjusted and “shrunk to fit”. Scaleable fonts are also commonly referred to as smooth fonts as their point sizes can be adjusted to any desired custom size evenly and proportionally, without the advent of visible rough edges.

Scan Spot

The size of the projection of light from a scanning device which “reads” the bar code message.


A device used to read a bar code symbol. It optically converts optical information into electrical signals.


A periodic process where the mobile unit sends out probe messages on all frequencies defined by the country code. The statistics enable a mobile unit to re-associate by synchronizing its frequency to the AP. The MU continues communicating with that access point until it needs to switch cells or roam.

SCSI port

Small Computer System Interface port. A high-speed connection that enables devices, such as hard-disk drives and network adapters, to be attached to a computer.


A bar code is considered self-checking if a single printing defect will not cause a character to be transposed into another valid character in the same symbology.


A device that produces an electronic signal in response to something in the environment.


Refers to the distance between two tags or the distance between a tag and a reader.


Substitution Error Rate, or the rate of occurrence of incorrect characters from an automatic identification system.

Serial Interface

A link between data processing devices on which all the data moves over one wire, one bit at a time. Think of it as transmitting words one letter at a time until a total of 8 letters or bytes (8 bits) are received. The byte is then processed, but in a slower fashion than parallel. Common serial interface communications are RS232 C, RS422, and RS485 (9 or 25 Pin).


A network node that provides services, such as printing or storage, to other nodes.

Service Temperature

The temperature range that a pressure sensitive label will withstand after a 72-hour residence time on the substrate. The range is expressed in degrees Fahrenheit and/or degrees Celsius.

Shelf Life

The period of time during which a product can be stored under specified conditions and still remain suitable for use.


A metal foil or mesh surrounding a conductor to reduce electromagnetic interference.


The generally undesirable property of a substrate that permits underlying markings to be seen.

Site Survey

Physical environment survey to determine the placement of access points and antennas, as well as the number of devices necessary to provide optimal coverage, in a new or expanding installation.


Rotation of a bar code symbol about an axis parallel to the symbol’s length.

Smart Label

Refers to a label that usually contains both a traditional bar code and an RFID tag. As bar codes are printed on smart labels, information is also encoded into the RFID tag by the printer.

Smudge Resistance

The resistance of a printed surface to smearing.

SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol)

The network management protocol of choice for TCP/IP based intranets. Defines the method for obtaining information about network operating characteristics, change parameters for routers and gateways.


A dissolving, thinning, or reducing agent. Specifically, a solvent is a liquid that dissolves another substance.

Source Marking

The process of labeling an item with a bar code at the point of its initial production.


The lighter element of a bar code usually formed by the background between the bars.

Space Width

The thickness of a space measured from the edge closest to the symbol’s start character to the trailing edge of the same space.

Spectral Response

The variation in sensitivity of a reading device to the light of different wavelengths.

Specular Reflection

The mirror-like reflection of light from a surface.


The undesirable presence of ink or dirt in a space.

Spread Spectrum

A transmission technique developed by the U.S. military in World War II to provide secure voice communications, spread spectrum is the most commonly used WLAN technology today. It provides security by “spreading” the signal over a range of frequencies. The signal is manipulated in the transmitter so that the bandwidth becomes wider than the actual information bandwidth. De-spreading the signal is impossible for those not aware of the spreading parameters; to them, the signal sounds like background noise. Interference from narrowband signals is also minimized to background noise when it is de-spread by the receiver. Two types of spread spectrum exist: direct sequence and frequency hopping.

SQL Server

Structured Query Language server. A computer that provides client computers with highly efficient access to database files.


Static Random Access Memory is a type of memory chip used in Random Access Memory that can take advantage of a particular method of working with certain main processors. In brief, a certain spot in RAM is first accessed. Then each address after that first address is accessed in order, up to a specific point. Because the computer doesn’t have to “figure out” each sequential address to access, a large block of memory can be accessed in less time than is required with DRAM. Again, you can’t just substitute SRAM chips for DRAM chips; a machine must have been designed to use SRAM. As it is a type of RAM, it will lose its information when the device into which it is installed is turned off.

Stacked Code Symbols

See Two-Dimensional Bar Code.

Stand-alone application

An application that was designed for non-network use.

Stand-alone network application

An application that is processed locally by client computers, but stored on the network, typically providing access to network features.


A set of rules, specifications, instructions, and directions on how to use a bar code or other automatic identification system to your advantage and profit. Usually issued by an organization, such as LOGMARS, HIBCC, UPC, etc.


A common set of rules.


A network topology in which nodes are connected to a central hub.

Start Character

A unique character to the left of the bar code which allows for bidirectionality. In a vertical bar code, the start character is at the top.


A computer attached to a network.

Stop Character

A unique character to the right of the bar code which allows for bidirectionality. In a vertical bar code, the stop character is at the bottom.

Storage Temperature

Denotes the prescribed temperature range for the safe storage of a thermal printer.

Stream Mode

A communications protocol supported only by the Telnet and TCP protocols. Stream mode transfers serial characters as they are received by encapsulating them in a packet and sending them to the host.

Substitution Error

A misencodation, misread, or human key entry error where incorrect information is substituted for a character that was to be entered.


The surface on which a bar code symbol is printed. Also, interchangeably, referred to as media.


The language used in bar code technology (e.g. UPC, Code 39, etc).

Synthetic Substrate

Man-made materials which have been created for specific applications.



A leased digital line service.


A type of dedicated digital leased-line available from a public telephone provider with a capacity of 1.544 Mbps. A T1 line can normally handle 24 voice conversations, each one digitized at 64 Kbps. With more advanced digital voice encoding techniques, it can handle more voice channels. T1 is the standard for digital transmission in the U.S. Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan.


A combination of a microchip and antenna that can be programmed with information to identify items and transmit that information to a receiver. Some tags can also receive new information, such as location information during shipment.

Tag Stock

Substrate which contains only the facestock and has a hole from which to be hung.

Tamperproof Label

A pressure-sensitive material that cannot be removed intact, thus making reuse of the label impossible.

TCP (Transport Communication Protocol)

Controls the transfer of data from one client to one host, providing the mechanism for connection maintenance, flow control, retries, and time-outs.


Networking protocol that provides communication across interconnected networks, between computers with diverse hardware architectures, and various operating systems. TCP/IP is used in the industry to refer to the family of common Internet protocols.

TCP/IP Transport Control

Protocol/Internet Protocol. Refers to the Internet Protocols, a set of protocol originally developed for the United States government. Because the Internet Protocols have been implemented on a wide variety of computers, they are often used in networks that interconnect disparate systems.


A continuous bar code which encodes the full ASCII character set.

Telnet (Terminal Emulation Protocol)

A protocol that uses the TCP/IP networking protocol as a reliable transport mechanism. Considered extremely stable.


An endpoint, which provides for real-time, two-way communications with another terminal, gateway, or mobile unit.

Thermal Transfer Print

Thermal transfer printers use the same basic technology as direct thermal printers, but with the elimination of chemically-coated media in favor of a non-sensitized face stock and a special inked ribbon. A durable polyester ribbon film coated with a dry thermal transfer ink is placed between the thermal printhead and label. The thermal printhead is used to melt the ink onto the label surface, where it cools and anchors to the media surface. The polyester ribbon is then peeled away, leaving behind a stable, passive image. Consistent/sharp edge bar code print capability—with durable long-life and archival image stability. Clean, quiet, compact operation Batch or individual label print capability. Low cost/low maintenance compared to comparable technologies. Maximum readability and IR scannability. High contrast text, graphic, and bar code print capability. Durable for operation of joint office/industrial applications.


Refers to the average length of label stock that a printer can process and print in a given amount of time. Throughput differs from print speed in that throughput includes the label transmission, formatting, and printing times. Due to these factors, a 12 ips machine may have lower throughput than a 10 ips printer.


Substrate which contains only the facestock and contains no hole punches.


Rotation of a bar code symbol about an axis perpendicular to the substrate.

Token passing

A media-access-control strategy in which a sequence of bits known as a “token” is passed from node to node. The node that currently holds the token has control of the communication channel.

Token ring

A popular local area network (developed by IBM) that uses a token-passing media access method over a star topology. Also used to refer to the standard specified by IEEE 802.5.


A device that can function as a transmitter or receiver.


The component on the “speaker” end of a transmission.

Transparent Label

A pressure sensitive label whose face material, adhesive, and protective coatings transmit light so that objects can be seen through it.


See Tag

Twisted pair

Cable consisting of at least two insulated wires that are intertwined to reduce electromagnetic interference.

Two-Dimensional Bar Code

Two-Dimensional Bar Codes are special rectangular codes which ‘stack’ information in a manner allowing for more information storage in a smaller amount of space. These are also referred to as ‘Stacked’ Bar Codes or ‘Matrix’ Bar Codes. A standard bar code is limited to 20 to 25 characters.



Uniform Code Council – formerly the Uniform Product Code Council. The organization that administers the UPC and other retail standards.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol)

UDP/IP is a connection-less protocol that describes how messages reach application programs running in the destination machine; provides low overhead and fast response and is well suited for high-bandwidth applications.

Ultra-High Frequency Tags

RFID systems that operate at multiple frequencies, including 868 MHz (in Europe), a band centered at 915 MHz, and 2.45 GHz (microwave). Read range is typically 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 meters), but systems operating in the 915 MHz band may achieve read ranges of 20 feet (6 meters) or more.

Unguided media

Product that transmits data through the air, such as radio or microwave.

Uniform Code Council (UCC)

The organization in the United States that sets and maintains the Universal Product Code (UPC) bar code standard.

Universal Product Code (UPC)

The barcode standard used in North America. See also Uniform Code Council.

UPC Code

Universal Product Code is the standard bar code symbol for retail food packages in the United States. This code was modified and adapted by Europe for international identification of food packages in the form of EAN.


UPC-A is the most common bar code used in retail today. It is a numeric, fixed ratio bar code with 12 characters.


A UPC symbol encoding six digits of data in an arrangement that occupies less area than a UPC-A symbol. Also called “zero suppressed” symbol because a 10-digit UPC-A code can be compressed to a six digit UPC-E format by suppressing redundant zeros.


Variable Length Code

A code whose number of encoded characters can be within a range, as opposed to a code with a fixed number of encoded characters.


A device that makes measurements of the bars, spaces, quiet zones, and optical characteristics of a symbol to determine if the symbol meets the requirements of a specification or standard.

Vertical Bar Code

A code pattern presented in such an orientation that the axis of the symbol from start to stop is perpendicular to the horizon. The individual bars are in an array that appears as rungs of a ladder.

Video Conferencing

Video and audio communication between two or more people via a video CODEC (coder/decoder) at either end and linked by digital circuits.


The undesirable absence of ink in a printed bar.



Wide area network. A network of interconnected networks.

Wand/Wand Scanner

A handheld scanning device used as a contact bar code or OCR reader.


A logo granted as the “seal of interoperability” by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA). Only select wireless networking products possess this characteristic of IEEE802.11b.

Wireless AP Support

Access Point functions as a bridge to connect two Ethernet LANs.

Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)

A wireless LAN is a data communications system providing wireless peer-to-peer (PC-to-PC, PC-to-hub, or printer-to-hub) and point-to-point (LAN-to-LAN) connectivity within a building or campus. In place of TP or coaxial wires or optical fiber as used in a conventional LAN, WLANs transmit and receive data over electromagnetic waves. WLANs perform traditional network communications functions such as file transfer, peripheral sharing, e-mail, and database access as well as augmenting wired LANs. WLANs must include NICs (adapters) and access points (in-building bridges), and for campus communications building-to-building (LAN-LAN) bridges.

Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN)

Personal area networks are based on a global specification called Bluetooth which uses radio frequency to transmit voice and data. Over a short range, this cable-replacement technology wirelessly and transparently synchronizes data across devices and creates access to networks and the Internet. Bluetooth is ideal for mobile professionals who need to link notebook computers, mobile phones, PDAs, PIMs, and other hand-held devices to do business at home, on the road, and in the office.

Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN)

Wide area networks utilize digital mobile phone systems to access data and information from any location in the range of a cell tower connected to a data-enabled network. Using the mobile phone as a modem, a mobile computing device such as a notebook computer, PDA, or a device with a stand-alone radio card, can receive and send information from a network, your corporate intranet, or the Internet.


The transfer and, generally, verification of data to a tag.

Write Rate

The rate at which information is transferred to a tag, written into memory and verified.



(1) A horse-like African mammal marked with light and dark stripes. (2) A thermal print technology company intent on providing innovative labeling solutions and quality products of renowned reliability to its customers.


Zebra Programming Language is the universal language/code of all Zebra bar code printers. ZPL is an ASCII based format that enables label generation to occur by way of an instructional blueprint defining label length, field origin, field data, and other related information. ZPL enables labels with any combination of text, barcode, or graphics to be created.



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