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You can use the FusionPro variable-data-printing software or the PrintShop Mail variable-data-printing software to print documents that have MaxiCode symbols on them.
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MYTHS and facts about
variable-data printing
& publishing

In addition to the
MaxiCode format, there
are other 2-D bar-code
formats. Four of them are
QR, PDF417, DataGlyph, and Datamatrix.

The area of information
technology that deals with
such symbols is known
as "2-D symbology."


Citation Software Inc.
 Specialists in variable-data publishing since 1986

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QUESTION: What is a MaxiCode symbol?

ANSWER: MaxiCode is a fixed-size 2D (two-dimensional) matrix-style symbology made up of offset rows of hexagonal modules arranged around a "finder pattern" that looks like a bullseye. Originally known as "UPS Code," MaxiCode was developed by United Parcel Service in 1992. It is currently used by United Parcel Service to facilitate automated sorting and addressing of packages.

A MaxiCode Symbol resembles a bar code, but instead of using bars it uses dots arranged in a hexagonal grid.


A MaxiCode symbol

UPS employees refer to a MaxiCode as a "Bird's Eye" or "Target."

The size of a Maxicode symbol is 1.11 x 1.054 inches.

The design of the MaxiCode symbology was chosen because it is well suited to high-speed, orientation-independent scanning.


As stated above, a MaxiCode symbol is a type of 2D (two-dimensional) symbology (horizontal being one dimension and vertical being the second dimension).

Contrast this with other kinds of bar codes that we see in our daily lives — most of them are "one-dimensional" bar codes. That is: the marks that make up the bar code are arranged in one row (one dimension), usually the horizontal dimension.

A UPC bar code

UPC bar codes are one-dimensional bar codes.
They are found on product packaging in supermarkets
and other retail environments.
A Code 128 bar code.

Code 128 bar codes are one-dimensional bar codes.
They are widely used in many industries, particularly those
related to shipping and packaging.

What kind of information is represented by a MaxiCode symbol?

A MaxiCode symbol can encode up to 93 characters of information. A MaxiCode symbol actually encodes two separate messages: a Primary message and a Secondary message. The Primary message normally includes a postal code, a three-digit country code, and a three-digit class-of-service number. The Secondary message normally includes address data and other information.

How do you get the information out of a MaxiCode symbol?

MaxiCode   To understand the information a MaxiCode symbol represents, you need a scanning wand or camera that is programmed to understand and interpret MaxiCode symbols.

Error correction

An error-correction mechanism is built into each MaxiCode symbol so that the symbol can still be decoded even if it is torn, smudged, or otherwise damaged.

How can you print MaxiCode symbols on your documents?

The process of putting MaxiCode symbols on your documents isn't as straightforward as putting one-dimensional bar codes on your documents.

Let's compare the two processes.

In most situations, to put a one-dimensional bar code on a document, you just need to type the information to be represented (or somehow generate that information automatically), and you need to format that information with the proper bar-code font.

The procedure for putting a MaxiCode symbol on a document is different and more complicated than what we've just described, for two reasons:
  • Since a MaxiCode symbol is two-dimensional, you can't represent the information in it with just one line of characters in your document.

  • The relationship between the marks that make up the MaxiCode symbol and the information that those marks represent is more complex than the relationship between the marks that make up a one-dimensional bar code and the information that the bar code represents.
You'll need special software to put MaxiCode symbols on your documents. The FusionPro variable-data-printing software and the PrintShop Mail variable-data-printing software support the MaxiCode symbol.

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