What is an Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcode?

What are Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes

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Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes are a popular type of linear barcode used in many industries. They were designed to quickly and accurately encode data, making them essential for companies that need fast and reliable data management. 

Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes is a two-width barcode symbology developed by David Allais in 1972. It is defined in ISO/IEC 16390 standard and is commonly used to identify photo film rolls, product cartons, and more. 

Interleaved 2 of 5 encodes data both in bars and spaces between them, making it possible to store more information than other 1-D codes like Code 39 while taking up half the space. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the specifics of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes and explain why they are so important. We will also explain its structure, working, advantages, disadvantages and some Interleaved 2 of 5 printing and designing guidelines.  

What Is an Interleaved 2 of 5 Code?- A Detailed Look

What is Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode

Interleaved 2 of 5 is a numeric-only barcode that encodes pairs of numbers into a self-checking, high-density barcode symbol. The Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode goes by various names, such as I2/5, I/L 2 of 5, 2/5 Interleaved, and ANSI/AIM ITF-5. 

The Interleaved 2 of 5 was developed by David Allais in 1972. As this barcode symbology can encode data in both bars and the spaces between them, it has proven to be a useful tool for shipping and warehouse operations. Interleaved 2 of 5 allows for higher density than Code 39 while taking up half the space. Read this article to find out more about Code 39 barcodes. 

Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes work by interleaving every two digits to create a single symbol that can be quickly read by barcode readers. Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes only work with an even number of digits. Therefore, if there are an odd number of digits, then a leading zero is added for Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes to generate correctly. 

The character set of Interleaved 2 of 5 code consists of the numbers 00 through 99, space characters, and start/stop characters. Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode features several barcode components, including.

  • Quiet zone before the start pattern
  • Interleaved symbols for data
  • Optional MOD 10 check character
  • Stop pattern after data
  • Trailing quiet zone at the end
  • Bearer bar surrounding the entire symbol (optional)

Why Do We Need An Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcode?

Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes are widely used in the distribution and warehousing industries as a reliable identification method. These linear barcodes are printed on various items, such as cartons or crates, to indicate their contents, 135 film rolls, security badge labels, and time clock readers. 

Interleaved 2 of 5 is especially beneficial for such applications due to its capacity for higher levels of data compression than other types of barcodes. As it can encode a large amount of data characters in a limited space, it is the ideal choice for situations when accuracy and detail are paramount.

How to Recognize an Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcode?

The Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode is a type of symbology composed of two interwoven bars and spaces. It starts with a specific start character that is followed by an even number of digits, which are encoded in pairs. After the digits, there’s a check digit, and then the barcode ends with a stop character. 

All these elements form unique characteristics, making it easy to identify ITF barcodes. 

Identifying Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode

Structure of an Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcode

Structure of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode

The structure of an Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes begins with a leading quiet zone. This is followed by a start pattern consisting of a narrow bar and two narrow spaces. 

The data characters are then encoded in interleaved pairs, with each character composed of five elements – two wide bars or spaces and three narrow bars or spaces. Each character is separated from its neighbour by an additional narrow space. 

The stop pattern follows the data characters and consists of two wide bars separated by a single narrow space. Finally, the trailing quiet zone completes the symbol.

In order to ensure that an even number of digits are present in the coded message, an optional check digit can be included. If necessary, a leading zero can be added to create an even number of characters for encoding purposes. Depending on the presence of this check digit, different pairs of ITF symbols will have different widths in the encoded pattern, thus affecting how much information can be stored. 

How to Get an Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcode?

Generating Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes is a straightforward, free, and highly accessible process that anyone can take advantage of. With the help of online tools and free barcode generators, users can easily create their own codes.

Users need to provide the numeric code associated with the product, and the generator will generate the ITF-5 barcodes. Once you have this barcode then you can use BarTender Software, a leading label design software to assist you with your label creation.

Interleaved 2 of 5 Designing Rules

Designing barcodes and labels is an integral part of any successful business operation. It is important to follow certain best practices to ensure that your barcodes and labels are accurate, effective, and up to industry standards. 

Our guides on Best Practices For Designing Perfect Labels And Barcodes and Common Mistakes To Avoid When Designing Barcodes provide useful information on crafting quality barcodes and labels. 

However, stricter guidelines must be adhered to for proper product identification when it comes specifically to Interleaved barcodes. Here is a list of things to remember when designing an Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes. 

  • Bar height
  • Bar width 
  • Bar width ratio 
  • Bearer bars
Three design rules of bar height of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode

Bar Height

The Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcode requires a minimum recommended bar height of 32 mm (1.25 inches) when used in General Distribution (automated scanning environments) and a minimum of 13 mm (0.5 inches) in all other scanning applications. 

However, it’s recommended to design the barcode as high as up to 32 mm (1.25 inch), even if not being used in automated scanning settings.

Bar Width (X Dimension)

The X-dimension is the width of the smallest bar in the symbol, which should be within certain parameters depending on the application.

The X-dimension should be between 0.495 mm – 1.02 mm (0.019 inches – 0.040 inches) for all automated scanning environments.

The X-dimension should be between 0.250 mm to 0.495 mm (0.0098 inches – 0.019 inches) for all other barcode scanning applications.  

Two design rules of X Dimension of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode
A design rule of bar width ratio of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode

Bar Width Ratio

Bar width ratio refers to the difference between the wide and narrow bars that form an Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode pattern. 

The bar width ratio of an Interleaved 2 of 5 code should be within the range of 2.25:1 to 3:1.

Bearer Bars

Design rule of bearer bars of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode with two points of their main benefits

Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes have the option to include bearer bars. Bearer bars are optional parallel lines that frame the main barcode horizontally or vertically and provide a reference point for the scanner’s aiming beam. 

These bearer bars serve two main purposes. 

To Prevent Distortion When Printing on Corrugated Cardboard Boxes

When barcodes are printed directly on corrugated cardboard boxes, flexible rubber printing plates are often used. These rubber plates can cause distortion as the printing plate bend when they make contact with the cardboard, producing an inaccurate barcode. Adding bearer bars helps stiffen the plates, making them more stable and thus reducing distortion. 

Help with Scanning Accuracy at Too Sharp an Angle

When using a barcode reader, the angle at which it passes over the code is important. If the reader passes over at too steep an angle, it may fail to scan the data-encoding bars found at each end of the barcode, resulting in incomplete data being collected. To help mitigate this issue, bearer bars are added to the barcodes to enable more successful scans. 

Interleaved 2 of 5 Printing Rules

List of seven printing rules of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode

In order to ensure the successful scanning of the barcode, there are several rules that should be followed when printing the Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes. These include.  

  • Always format barcodes in pure black with a white background. If you need to use colour, make sure the font is very dark, and the background is very light. 
  • Make sure there is a clear white quiet zone around the barcode.
  • For best results, set your printer settings to the highest photo quality. Alternatively, experiment with printing resolution and print speeds until you find an acceptable setting that consistently produces scannable barcodes.  
  • If printing a batch of Interleaved 2 of 5 codes at once, set alignment guides on the platter/plate and run a test before running a large job to ensure accuracy and scannability. 
  • Always test-scan your barcodes in full sunlight or direct overhead lighting, as this will show if the scanner is picking up all of the code. 
  • Check for smudges, scratches, or other defects that can affect the clarity and readability of the ITF barcode.

Using a high-quality thermal printer is essential for businesses that rely on printing Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes. Not only do these printers provide superior precision and accuracy, but they also offer cost savings due to their lack of need for ink or toner.

Furthermore, thermal printers are faster than other printing technologies, allowing for quicker output with fewer maintenance needs over longer periods.

At Triton Store, we have a diverse inventory that features a wide range of thermal printer models to choose from. Our thermal printer range includes top-notch printers from industry-leading manufacturers such as Honeywell, Zebra, and TSC. Our offerings include direct thermal printers, thermal transfer printers, barcode label printers, desktop printers, and industrial printers.

We also provide a range of print consumables. Our print consumables are manufactured to the highest standards and have superior adhesion and long-lasting print quality. Our thermal printer consumables range includes thermal transfer ribbons, thermal labels, thermal carton labels, thermal carcase tags, and food-compliant thermal inserts.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcode

Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode symbology has various advantages and disadvantages over other barcode types. 

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Interleaved 2 of 5. 

Advantages of Interleaved 2 of 5 Code

  • Can encode more information than industrial or other regular 2 of 5 codes.
  • Self-checking, no need for check digit. 
List of two advantages of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode
Two disadvantages of Interleaved 2 of 5 barcode

Disadvantages of Interleaved 2 of 5 Code

  • Not capable of encoding alphabetic characters or punctuation.
  • No option to encode an odd set of numerical characters.  


Overall, Interleaved 2 of 5 is an incredibly useful type of barcode that can help store and process large amounts of numerical data quickly and accurately. It’s easy to print using standard printers.

Interleaved 2 of 5 takes up less space than most other types when printed onto labels, shipping boxes, and products. It also holds large amounts of data without sacrificing accuracy when read by scanners or other devices. 

Interleaved 2 of 5 codes are easy to generate using software or online tools, making them ideal for many businesses. With the right system in place, Interleaved 2 of 5 can be extremely beneficial for streamlining operations and reducing costs associated with manual labour.

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