Is it barcode or bar-code?

It amuses me that Panatrack has been in the business of developing barcode-enabled solutions for many years, yet still often debate internally over how to spell “bar-code”. In a recent update to our PanatrackerGP WMS Inventory whitepaper, we even found a few inconsistencies in the same document.

Thinking as a software guy for a moment let’s temporarily go with barXcode, and postulate that “X” can be null.  Plus, it is fun to say barXcode, as it makes me think of labeling yappy little dogs.

Aren’t we all trained as schoolchildren to “look it up”? Well, the Oxford dictionary definition of barcode states that it is one word. Solved. It’s Craft Brew time.

Hmmm…except the Merriam-Webster dictionary claims it is “bar code”.  Well, that “authoritative dictionary plan” unravels faster than a cheap sweater.

Surely, the authoritative GS1 Organization, known as the “world’s official provider of bar code numbers for retail”, can help us. Looking on their Need A Barcode page, I notice their inconsistent usage of “bar code“, “barcode“, and “BarCodes“. Seriously? That last one is just cheating.

 I make the following case for a single word spelling:

  • As a verb, as in “let’s barcode that Chihuahua”, it is much less confusing than “to bar code something”.
  • As a noun, as in “slap a barcode on that Chihuahua”, it is also less confusing without the space.
  • As an adjective, as in “that zebra looks kinda barcodey”, it just plain works.

People drive “pickup trucks”, they don’t drive “pick up trucks”. It’s a weak argument, but it seems to support my case.

The reality is that as long as people might do a web search for barcode or bar code, it’s best if we go either way. If you landed on this page because you were also confused, then it worked. Welcome to Panatrack. We create solutions to track inventory and assets using technologies such as barcoding. Or is that bar coding?

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