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Packaging 101: How to Measure a Shipping Box

Measuring a shipping box might seem like an ordinary skill but today we’re going through the basics for any beginners or businesses that are new to shipping products. We’ll cover how to measure a box, figuring out the cubic size as well as other general shipping information to keep in mind before packaging your product to get it sent out to a customer. 

Intro to Packaging and Shipping

When packing and shipping boxes, it’s important to know how to measure a box properly in order to get the most efficient shipping rates. There are certain steps to measuring a box that will make it easier for your business and here’s everything you need to know in order to measure a box.

Inside or Outside Dimensions

When you purchase a box from WCP or other distributors, shipping boxes are measured using the inside dimensions. This is done so that you know that your products will fit properly. When you measure a box for shipping with carriers like UPS or FedEx, you’ll be measuring the outside dimensions of the box. By using the outside dimensions, this allows carriers to accurately figure out the space required for your package.

Measure a Box

  1. Measure the length of the box first. This is the long side of the box on the side of the longest flap.
  2. Next, turn the box 90 degrees and measure the width, which is the side with the shorter flap.
  3. Last, measure the height of the package. This will be measured showing the flaps closed, from top to bottom.

*Note on measurements – Acceptable variance is +/- ⅛”.

Dimensional Weight and Shipping Your Package

The dimensional weight of a box is how you’ll factor out the weight of the box, which will help you calculate how much you’ll pay to ship the package. This is calculated by determining the cubic size of the box, multiplying the length by the width by the height. Then you’ll take that number and if it’s greater than 1,728 inches, which is the equivalent of 1 cubic foot, you’ll divide that by each shipping carrier’s divisor that we’ll dive into below. 

For shipping companies, costs are based on the size of the box but also where the package is being shipped to. Shipping companies will charge you shipping costs based on the cubic size of the package based on the destination. If shipping within the US And Puerto Rico, you’ll divide the cubic size of your box by 166 if shipped through USPS. For International Destinations, UPS and Fed Ex, you’ll do the same thing but use 139 as the dividing factor. The dimensional weight needs to be exact and not rounded at all for proper shipping costs.

Most freight companies charge by the dimensional weight of the box or the actual weight, whichever is greater. They do this so they can maximize their profits, which makes it vitally important as the shipper to have the right sized box for your product so you don’t overspend on shipping. Feel free to reach out to your account manager today at WCP so that we can figure out which box size is perfect for your products!


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