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Box Basics

We have included this section to help you select the proper style of box to meet your packaging and shipping needs


Box sizes are measured by using inner dimensions unless otherwise specified.  The size of your contents actually determine the inner box dimensions.  Domestically (within the United states), those dimensions are listed in the following sequence: Length (L) X Width (W) X Depth (D)*. Internationally, the dimensions are stated as Length (L) X Breadth (B) X Height (H).

Dimensions are based on the opening of an assembled box.  Looking at the opening, the longer of the two sides is considered the “length”.  The shorter of the two sides is the “width”.  The side perpendicular to the length and width is the “depth” of the box.

* Exceptions are bookfolds, bin boxes, & divider bins where “width” precedes “length” & “depth” of the measurement sequence.

Box Construction - What you need to know

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The “Manufacture’s Joint” is where the two ends of the side panels meet to form the box.  At that point, the panels are fastened together with tape, staples or glue.  This description applies to regular slotted shipping cartons (RSCs).  The side panel thickness and content weight determine the type of seal used for the manufacturer’s joint.  For example, glue is used for most single wall boxes, but staples are found in some double wall and in most triple wall boxes.  In contrast, die-cut boxes are one-piece panels scored and folded together.  They do not have a manufacturer’s joint

Box Strength

The strength of a corrugated box starts with it’s material.  A corrugated sheet consists of two major components - linerboard and medium.  Linerboard is the flat paper that covers both sides of the sheet and the medium is the “fluted” or arched paper found between both liners.  The flute, when anchored to the linerboard with a starched-based adhesive, resists bending and pressure from all directions.  When placed vertically on it’s end, the flutes form vertical columns, capable of supporting considerable amounts of weight

Flutes come in five basic heights and shapes - the most common are: “B-Flute” (used for die cut boxes) and “C-Flute” (used for RSCs).  B-flute is compressed and appears thinner, but do not be fooled.  It is made with more paper to provide stronger side wall protection from blows and punctures.  C-flute is taller. With more air space, but offers enhanced stacking strength.  For excellent graphic reproduction, consider E-flute.

The amount of virgin pulp fibers and the length of those fibers in a corrugated sheet substantially contribute to box strength.  For example, the difference between a 200# test box and a 275# test box is that the latter has more pulp fibers in it’s corrugated linerboard.  The 200# test box is rated to hold up to 65 lbs. Of box and contents while the 275# box can hold up to 95 lbs.  A 350# test box is rated to hold up to 120 lbs. Of box and contents.  The following chart shows Bursting Test and Edge Crush Test performance standards of corrugated box liners based on the combined weight of the box and it’d contents.

Linerboard Performance Standards

Max. Wt. Box/Contents


Min. Burst Test

(lbs. Per sq. In)*

Min. Edge Crush Test (ECT)

(Lbs. Per in. Width)

Single Wall Corrugated Boxes






















Double Wall Corrugated Boxes



















Triple Wall Corrugated Boxes













* Minimum puncture, Triple Wall board (in. oz. per in. of tear)

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Look for the Manufacturer’s Stamp

A way to be sure that the material of the box that you are purchasing meets industry standards is to look for the Manufacturer's Certification Stamp, usually printed on one of the bottom flaps of the box.  The stamp identifies the material as “singlewall”, “doublewall”, or “triplewall”.  It also certifies the Mullen Bursting Test (most common is 200 lbs. Per square inch) or the Edge Crush Test (ECT 32 lbs. Per inch).  The Mullen Test measures the bursting strength of the corrugated linerboard while the Edge Crush Test measures linerboard stacking strength.  The 200 lbs. Mullen box and the 32 ECT box are comparable in stacking strength but that is where the similarity ends.  The Mullen Test box is better suited

for the protection of heavier contents while the Edge Crush Test box provides lighter weight cartons with good stacking characteristics.  When in doubt as to which box to use, always select the Mullen Test box because the construction of the linerboard cannot be altered.  For example, 200# Mullen Test linerboard must be made of 42# per square inch basis weight paper and the medium or flute paper cannot be less than 23# per square inch basis weight.

Single Wall

Double Wall

Triple Wall

When to use a single wall 200# test box - when the box and contents weigh less than 65 lbs. This weight limit works fine for multiple light-weight items in a box or for a master pack box where individual boxes are packed tightly in organized rows and stacks. If a single heavy item is to be shipped in a single wall, 200# test box, we recommend a weight limit of 45 lbs. or an upgrade to a 275# test single wall box. Simply apply common sense and always err on the conservative side.

When & What Box to Use

Also called shipping boxes, RSCs are the most commonly used boxes. They are usually kraft brown in color, have four flaps on the top and bottom and the side walls are sealed at one corner known as the "Manufacturer's  This design is highly functional for most packing applications.

Box Styles

Regular Slotted Carton (RSC)

Multiple-Depth Carton (MDC)

The same box design as a RSC, but with horizontal scores (creases) at selected depths along all four side walls. This feature gives you depth flexibility when packing a box. A Multiple-Depth Carton can be several boxes in one.

Half Slotted Carton (HSC)

A variation of the RSC, the Half Slotted Carton has only one set of flaps. The opposite side of the box is completely open, allowing it to slide over an item. Envision the use of the box turned over so that the flaps are on the top. The covered item is usually attached to a pallet or other type of surface that serves as a separate bottom.

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Full Overlap Slotted Carton (FOL)

With a Full Overlap Slotted Carton, all "length" flaps are also equal to the width of the box. The flaps actually fold over each other to provide added strength and protection to the top and bottom.

Five-Panel Folder (FPF)

A Five-Panel Folder actually resembles a shallow-depth box when assembled. It is a one-piece box with an over-lapping top and over-lapping end panels. The functional design is also economical.

Snap-Bottom Carton (SBC)

Available with tuck-in top or with RSC-style top flaps (shown). Also called an "auto bottom" box. The bottom of the box snaps into place without tape for quick assembly. Best suited for light-weight products.

Full Telescope Design Carton (FTD)

A two-piece box with a separate lid that fits over a bottom tray.

Half Telescope Design Carton (HTD)

Two half-slotted cartons with one box slightly smaller to enable it to be inserted into the other box. Offers the ability to adjust the height or length of the box to fit your needs. Especially suitable for large, heavy items. For depth flexibility with smaller items, visit the "Multiple-Depth" box section of this web site.

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Two-Piece Carton With Separate Lid (CSL)

Die-cut box with open top and tray-style lid. Similar to a File Storage Box, but without the hand holes on either end.

Double Cover Carton (DC)

This style of box is frequently used for tall or large, heavy items. A three-piece box, the Double Cover Carton is constructed of a four-panel tube that serves as the side panels and two interchangeable trays that serve as the top and bottom of the box.

One-Piece Folder (OPF)

Commonly called, "Bookfolds" or  the One Piece Folder has a flat bottom with two short flaps forming the sides at each end and two longer, wider flaps that form the front, back and top of the box. The wider flaps either meet or overlap on the top, depending on the depth of the contents. The four panels of a Bookfold are usually scored (creased) at multiple depths. One-Piece Folders are used to package shallow depth items such as books and pictures. Usually manufactured with white board.

Mailer-Styler Boxes (MSB)

A one-piece die-cut box that is assembled without tape. Construction includes double-layer protection on the sides and bottom of the box. Available in two popular styles - with a tuck-in top or with a locking cover, also known as a "cherry lock" design. (See illustrations) Mailer-Style Boxes are exceptionally strong and can withstand the most rigorous treatment during shipment.

Tuck-In Top

Locking cover

Bin Boxes (BB)

Another one piece die cut box that can be assembled without tape or glue. Often called shelf boxes for parts and other small items, Bin Boxes have an open top to allow you to see and reach inside. Measured by width, length and depth. These long, narrow boxes can significantly increase storage space. Available in multiple widths and in four different lengths.

Divider Bins (DB)

Divider Bins are smaller, open top boxes. They are usually used with Bin Boxes to create multiple compartments within a Bin Box.

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