National System Codes

P High Low S Code
Outward code Inward code


This is a translator for the "standard" coding patterns in use for the national code system of c.1973-94 with fourteen dot positions. It interprets the two rows of code marks, which encode the postcode (e.g. YO1 3JW) or addresses in other formats, working out the notation for the dot pattern in standard XX/YY format and stating which codes it corresponds to. See this page for an overview of the coding system.

The general idea is that you match the dot pattern on your cover by clicking on the appropriate dot positions to turn them on or off, and the interpretation appears in the box below. The "Start" (S) position was there to provide a fixed point for the machinery to start reading from (working right to left) and a dot is always present in that position. The "Parity" (P) position was for error checking – a dot was printed only when needed to make the number of dots in the full pattern even (so a pattern with an odd number of dots could be assumed to be an error). These positions can be a big help when deciding exactly how many spaces there are between dots ...

The parity dot in this tool will be switched on and off automatically, according to the rest of the pattern.