How to Read Box Dimensions? A Guide to Box Packaging

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Measuring box dimensions starts with length, width and height, giving you a simple guide to make it easier for you to understand box dimensions in custom packaging.

Table of Contents

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Packoi Team

The e-commerce revolution has brought quite a few conveniences to our shopping experience. However, in terms of conveying the accuracy of the box dimensions of the product, it is somewhat insufficient. Yes, these products come with a string of numbers describing the size of the product.

Pay special attention to the box dimensions before custom packaging. Shipping costs are typically based on the size and weight of the package. By knowing the dimensions of your box, you can get an accurate estimate of shipping costs.

But how do you read these dimensions? Is there a particular order you should follow?

What Does LxWxH Stand For?

L x W x H represents the three dimensions of an object: Length (L), Width (W), and Height (H). Length-width measurements describe the flat area of a product or box, while height is the vertical measurement. When measuring a box’s dimensions (LxW), the larger of the two dimensions is labeled length, while the short dimension is labeled width.

LxWxH Dimension - Cardboard Example

You can identify the box height by looking at the opening lid. The other dimensions will then be the length and width. Now you can determine the length as the larger number; the last remaining horizontal dimension will be the width.

Occasionally, you will see the “H” replaced with a “D” for depth measurement. This is primarily a personal choice by the seller to better convey the shape of a product. In practice, both height and depth refer to the same vertical dimension.

When you open a box from the top, it’s easier to see the downward measurement as depth from the top. But when you look at the same box from the front, you will see its height from the bottom. The difference comes from our perspective on dimensions and our preference for certain words.

How do I Measure Dimensions?

In the application of the dimensions above the box packaging, the application and difference between 2D and 3D are used to interpret the dimensions encountered in the process of box packaging and correctly read the size.

2D box packaging refers to packaging boxes that are designed using a flat, two-dimensional approach. In contrast to 3D box packaging, which uses a combination of 2D elements and 3D design elements to create a more dynamic and eye-catching packaging solution, 2D box packaging is focused primarily on utilizing two-dimensional surface areas to convey information and branding elements.

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2D Custom Packaging Design

For flat 2D packaging designs, you have only two dimensions: one for width and another for height. The term length is less commonly used for flat design in professional environments. However, laymen often use length x width instead of width x height.

Here are some examples of 2D applications in box packaging:

Example 1: Design and Illustration

  • Branding – 2D box packaging can utilize large, two-dimensional surfaces to prominently display brand logos, product names, and other messaging.
  • Graphics and art – 2D box packaging can incorporate graphics, illustrations, and other 2D elements to create a visually engaging and attractive packaging solution.
  • Labels and information – 2D box packaging can include labels, information, and other 2D elements to convey important information about the product, how to use it, and other relevant details.
Differnce Between Box & Design Dimensions

All design and illustration work uses the standard WxH order for design and prints. The order originates from matrix dimensions in mathematics but is also standard in digital screen resolutions. Designers use the metric system for their dimensions to avoid relying on fractions.

A vertical A4 design will be written as WxH 210 x 297 mm (8.27 x 11.69 inches). But if you change the orientation to horizontal, the design box dimensions are inverted to 297 x 210 mm but are still written in the WxH order.

Example 2: Laymen’s Dimensions

Occasionally, manufacturers and printers use LxW (length-width) or LxH (length-height) terms to describe their products. Here, length will always be used to describe the horizontal dimensions relative to the branding and lettering on the packaging.

Differnce Between Design & Laymen Dimensions

This order is meant to reduce confusion among buyers unfamiliar with the design industry standards. Generally speaking, people find this method the easiest to understand, but it creates a conflict with industry standards.

Example 3: Envelope Dimensions

A key outlier in 2D dimensions is the humble envelope. To maintain accurate measurements across several countries, envelope designs have stuck to a non-standard dimension order. All envelopes’ dimensions will have the smaller dimension listed first, irrespective of the orientation.

Envelop Dimension Examples

A regular motivational envelope will have dimensions of 3.5 x 6 inches. A vertical open-end envelope will have dimensions of 9 x 12 inches. Here, there is no standard labeling. You can refer to envelope dimensions as WxH, HxW, or LxW.

Overall, 2D box packaging offers a range of design options and can be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the product being packaged. By focusing on two-dimensional design elements, 2D box packaging can provide a sustainable and visually engaging packaging solution that effectively protects the product and conveys important information about the brand.

3D Packaging: LxWxH Which Comes First?

How to measure a box? Standard packaging practice dictates that the order of box dimensions should be listed as length-width-height. To avoid confusion, all professional box packaging designers and printers follow this order for 3D objects.

LxWxH Order - Tall vs Long Cardboard

If you see three numbers listed as a product’s size or dimensions, The first number will represent the length, the second will be the width, and the last will be the height. That’s the 3D. Now it is also possible to use some 3D tools for 3D design and custom packaging. Like Adobe’s 3D packaging design.

How Do I Read Box Dimensions?

Measuring the 3D box and deciphering the box’s dimensions are all step by step.

Step 1

The dimensions for a standard 3D box are written as three numbers separated by the multiplication symbol “x“. These are your length x width x height measurements, in that order. Use a tape measure, if needed, to measure the LxWxH of your box. Let’s assume your box measurements are 12, 8 & 10 inches.

How to Read Dimensions - Step 1

Step 2

Take a look at your box orientation. If your box has a lid, then that side is the top. Your height will be the distance from the top lid to the base of the box. The height of the box is 10 inches, and the remaining length-width is 12 & 8 inches.

How to Read Dimensions - Step 2

Step 3

Now you are left with length-width dimensions. The remaining longest measurement is the length of your box. Now we know the height of the box is 10 inches and the length is 12 inches.

How to Read Dimensions - Step 3

Step 4

Now that we know the height and length of the box, the other dimension must be the width. And now we have associated the three measurements (12-8-10) with the three dimensions (length x width x height).

How to Read Dimensions - Step 4

Step 5

Once you measure the LxWxH of your object, it’s time to choose the correct box dimensions for branding and lettering. Determine the side of your box where you want the lettering printed.

How to Read Dimensions - Step 5

Step 6

Your print area’s size will differ from the LxWxH you have measured. No matter the orientation, your left-to-proper distance will be your width, while your top-to-bottom distance will be your height.

How to Read Dimensions - Step 6


Reading the dimensions for any given product or box will seem daunting at first glance to most people. But the process becomes much simpler once you understand the logic and pattern behind writing dimensions. Try to stick to standard industry practices and avoid relying on laymen and modified box measurements.

Why Choose Packoi for Your Custom Packaging Needs?

Packoi provides state-of-the-art packaging solutions for all industries. We have low MOQs and offer affordable, fully customized boxes and bags. The quality of your packaging indicates the quality of the products inside it. You need to rely on established companies like Packoi to support you for a successful business.

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Hey there, I’m Shelly!

I really enjoy the packaging and printing industry because my work makes my clients’ products more beautiful and enjoyable. If you have any questions about packaging and printing, feel free to contact me!

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