Packaging Design & Tips

Box Measuring Guide: How to Measure the 3 Dimensions of a Box

Box Measuring Guide: How to Measure the 3 Dimensions of a Box - PackQueen

Unsure how to properly measure the length, width, and height of a box? You're not alone! This post explains step-by-step how to accurately measure boxes so you get the right size for packing and shipping. Follow our visual guide to measure like a pro.

Measuring a cardboard box may seem like a simple thing--and it doesn't need to be complicated--but there's so much more to it than simply pulling out the tape measure and measuring length times width times height.

The size of the cardboard box that you need for a packing job is going to depend a great deal on what you're packing in that box, what kind of special insulation or packing fillers you're using, and whether you're measuring it accurately.

Let's look at the most simple question first:

Measuring a Cardboard Box; Do You Measure Width and Depth From the Inside or Outside Dimensions?

There are cases to be made for both measuring a cardboard box from the inside and measuring it from the outside. And lest you think that it doesn't matter, rest assured that it can matter quite a lot if you do it wrong. Making sure that your products fit snugly into their packaging is of massive importance in making sure that there is no shifting in the transportation process, leading to damage.

The Case for Measuring the Inside of the Cardboard Box

The reason that you would measure the inside of a cardboard box is if you are going to be packaging something--a valuable and possibly breakable product--that requires packing material to be included in the box. First, you need to get the measurements of the object that you are packaging in this cardboard box. Then you need to estimate the amount of packaging that will be needed to keep the item safe. Then--the important part--you need to measure the box's interior dimensions.
Estimating the amount of filler to be included in the box is an art, not a science, but if the item you're packing is particularly valuable you always want to err on the side of too much packaging material and not too little. The filler is often styrofoam, but can also be air bags, bubble wrap, and styrofoam peanuts. But you need to figure out how confident you are that some delivery driver, in a hurry, is going to be able to drop your item on the front porch of a house somewhere and that the item will not jostle enough to be damaged. Because we all know that writing fragile on a cardboard box is not always enough to make the deliverer take that warning seriously.
So you measure your item. Then you estimate how much packing material you need to make sure that the item is going to be safe. Then--the important part--you get out that measuring tape and you measure the inside dimensions of the box. It may not seem like much, but if you have a sturdy cardboard box, then the dimensions on the inside versus the dimensions on the outside could differ by as much as ¼. And that could make all the difference.

The Case for Measuring the Outside of the Cardboard Box

There are two big reasons why you would want to measure the dimensions of the outside of your cardboard box. The first is that you have to know that your cardboard box is going to fit in delivery trucks. Business today in shipping and distribution is all about maximizing space and making sure that you can fit the most boxes into the space allotted to you without wasting any room.
The second big reason why you would want to carefully measure the outside dimensions of your cardboard box is if you're shipping it. When your company is shipping a box there are strict size limits that the box needs to fit into to reach certain price thresholds--it's not all about weight. If a cardboard box is as much as a half inch too big then the price of shipping could increase by a few dollars. Multiply that by a hundred or a thousand boxes that you're shipping and that cost isn't trivial.


You probably never thought that so much mattered when you were figuring out the size of a cardboard box. But it can really mean the difference between your product being delivered broken, or the cost of shipping skyrocketing.

So remember: measuring a cardboard box is length times width times height. But knowing when to measure the inside and when to measure the outside, and what's at stake with each measurement, is essential.

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