How to Calculate Shipping Box Sizes

Written by will charpentier
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Selecting the right size box to ship something--whether it be a gift, a purchase to be shipped home while you're on vacation, or a white elephant you finally unloaded through an online auction site--is one of the keys to having that "something" arrive in good condition. The box must be large enough to hold whatever it is you're shipping and the packaging that stabilises the box's contents, but not so large that you end up paying extra to ship a large box full of packaging, when a smaller box would have done just as well. Calculating the correct box size is easy using a few short steps.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Goods to be shipped
  • Measuring tape
  • Calculator

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  1. 1

    Use a measuring tape to determine the length, height, and width of the goods to be packaged. Even if you're shipping lead bricks that can't be damaged during shipping and handling, these measurements represent the dimensions of the smallest possible box you can use.

  2. 2

    Use your calculator to divide each dimension (length, width, and height) by 4. If the goods measure 20 inches long, 12 inches high, and 4 inches wide, then you divide each by 4 and arrive at 5 inches, 3 inches, and 1 inch. This is the "packing space," for each dimension and each equals 1/4 of each of the original measurement.

    Whether you use excelsior (wood shavings, the most expensive packaging), plastic packing materials (bubblewrap or plastic "peanuts") or crumpled newspaper (you can send along the local news this way), the goods inside should be held in place by the packaging. This ensures they are insulated from the dings and dents of transport by the space around them.

  3. 3

    Add the packing space for each dimension to the original measurement: 20 inches + 5 inches = 25 inches; 12 inches + 3 inches = 15 inches; 3 inches + 1 inch = 4 inches. This means that the shipping box to carry the goods must be 25 inches long, 15 inches high, and 4 inches wide in order to hold both the goods you're shipping and the packing material to help keep the goods safe.

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