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Right-Sized Packaging: How to Measure a Corrugated Box

June 28, 2019

When it comes to packaging, one size doesn't fit all. Today’s consumers are more conscious of packaging waste than ever before, driving major retail and eCommerce brands towards using right-sized boxes for packaging and shipping purposes. So, what does it mean to right-size a box, and why does it matter?

A right-sized box refers to custom packaging that properly fits a product’s size and shape, minimizing the need for extra void fill materials, such as foam and bubble wrap. Using right-sized boxes can lower freight costs and enhance product protection while improving your bottom line. By reducing the amount of material used, this also supports sustainable packaging and shipping practices. 

In order to produce a right-sized box for your product, you need to communicate your desired box dimensions to your packaging provider. However, knowing how to accurately measure a box isn’t as straightforward as it seems. A simple mismeasurement can cause a costly and time-consuming setback to your packaging project.


Interior vs. Exterior Dimensions of a Corrugated Box

Corrugated boxes have two sets of dimensions: interior and exterior. The interior dimensions are the industry standard measurement used to determine the fit of the product that goes inside. When ordering boxes, the measurements you see relate to the interior dimension — unless stated otherwise by your packaging provider. However, it can be helpful to know the exterior dimensions of a box for shipping and inventory purposes.


Interior Dimensions of Box


The size of a corrugated box is always expressed by three dimensions: Length, Width, and Depth, or L x W x D. Length is always the longest side of the box that has a flap. The width also has a flap, but this side is shorter than the length. The depth relates to the area between the top and bottom scores (creases in the box used to enable folding) that create the height of the box.


Measuring the Interior Dimensions of a Box

When you measure the interior dimensions of a box, position the unglued box in front of you, with the inside of the box facing up. Draw a line on the score lines where the box folds to create different panels. Mark the two scores that make up the length, width, and depth of the box.



Next, use a tape measure to measure the length between each of these scores to the nearest tenth of an inch. These measurements are used to calculate the interior dimensions of the box.


Measuring the Exterior Dimensions of a Box

After packing and securing your box with the desired product inside, measuring the exterior dimensions is quite similar to the interior — following the formula of L x W x D. With the box in front of you, use a tape measure to measure the length, width, and depth to the nearest tenth of an inch. These measurements are used to calculate the exterior dimensions of the box.


Exterior Dimensions of Box


Box Measurement Considerations

Be sure to take into account that the measurements when the panels are flat are not the actual useable space in a box. Once the box is folded and the flaps are in place, some of that space is occupied by the thickness of the material folding and creating the corners. The flaps also require some space when they are folded down. This is referred to as “scoring allowances” in the packaging industry.

Custom packaging providers such as The BoxMaker can produce a right-sized box based on your product size constraints (accounting for cushioning and protection space). To do this, you will need to accurately measure the exact dimensions of your product and communicate this information to the packaging manufacturer. Most providers will request that you send a sample of your product to them (which they will gladly return safely to you) for proper measurement.


Partner with a Pacific Northwest Custom Box Manufacturer

In order to produce a right-sized box, it’s important to first know how to accurately measure a box following industry practices. If you have any questions or concerns, our experienced and dedicated Packaging Advisors can walk you step-by-step through the production process — from ideation to the final result. In collaboration with our award-winning structural design team, we can create a right-sized box design that is optimized for your product.

Download The BoxMaker's Guide to Corrugated Box Styles to learn about the wide range of box style options available. When you’re ready to get started with your next packaging project, schedule a consultation today.

Get Your Free PDF Guide to Corrugated Box Styles

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