Cardboard Packaging Terminology

We have put together a list of terminology that will be helpful when choosing the perfect packaging for your goods of commonly used terms. As part of design and packaging projects, knowing the right packaging terminology may help you communicate to achieve the desired outcome. 

If you still have any questions, please do not hesitate to Contact us.



Across Flute – A unit of measurement to measure corrugated boards. This is the measurement of the width of the flute.

Abrasion Resistance Endurance to the effects of repeated rubbing, scuffing and scratching.

Artwork Designs prepared for reproduction, that consist of illustrations, lettering, and photographs with instructions on colour matching during printing.

Aqueous Coating A water-based coating that is applied to seal the entire sheet, creating a smooth finish that is available in matte, satin, and gloss.

Adhesive Substance used to hold plies of solid fiberboard together; to hold the board to the tips of flutes of the corrugated medium; or to hold overlapping flaps together to form the joint or to close a box.


Backing Liner – A compressible material adhered to the liner to improve the finish, water-resistance and strength.

Base – The bottom piece of the package that typically contains items.

Blank – A flat piece of corrugated board that has been cut and scored, ready to make a box.

Board grade – A grade is used for corrugated board based on the weight and type of outer liner, flute type, and weight and type of inner liner.

Basis Weight An attribute of containerboard, but the values may be determined from the combined corrugated board. When determining the basis weight from the combined board, the take-up factor of the corrugated medium, which varies with flute size, and the weight of the adhesive must be considered.

Bending Ability of containerboard or combined board to be folded along scorelines without rupture of the surface fibers to the point of seriously weakening the structure.

Blank or Box Blank  A flat cardboard piece cut and scored, ready to be joined with other pieces to make a box.

Bleed – A term that defines the blank space/edge between the printing image and the page. The bleed area allows for some movement and design inconsistencies. Just in case the ink “bleeds” outside its line.

Box Style A category used as a descriptor regardless of box size or construction.

Bundle Shipping unit of two or more boxes grouped together, usually with plastic binding.

Bulk  In printing, this term refers to the thickness of the paper.



Carton- Any box style that can be folded and shipped.

Carton Board – Board with a medium to high compression and moisture resistance. Unlike cardboard, it is solid, and not fluted.

CMYK Refers to a colour model where the letters stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (K).

Chop Edge, Chops  – The length of the board/sheet.

Clay Coat  – A thin layer of kaolin (soft white clay) coated onto corrugated board to improve printing.

Compression Strength  Corrugated box’s resistance to uniformly applied external forces. Top-to-bottom compression strength is related to the load a container may encounter when stacked. End-to-end or side-to-side compression may also be of interest for particular applications.

Corrugated  – A material that is shaped into a series of parallel ridges and grooves.

Collapse  – Contraction of the walls of a container (e.g., upon cooling) leading to permanent deformation.

Colour Separation  – Refers to the process where an image is separated into component colours for multi-colour print production.

Crash lock: A carton / box style which enables the base of the box to be locked together without the use of tape, in an interlocking system.

Creasing  – A process where a die is used to create creases in a material so that it can fold with ease.

Creep – The progressive deformation of a material when stress is applied.

Crop Marks  – Horizontal and vertical lines that indicate the edge of the printed piece.

Crush  – A measurement of a board’s resistance to being crushed.

Cushioning – Packaging cushioning is used to protect fragile and sensitive items during transit.

Cutting Form (Tooling) – A tool made to cut and crease the specific shape and size required for your boxes from the appropriate cardboard or corrugated board.

Curl – Distortions of sheet due, for instance, to uneven moisture content or excessive tension.



Deboss – An image pressed into a board so that it lies below the typical viewing surface.

Die – A type of tool that allows for customized branding of packaging products.

Die-Cut- Refers to the process that uses a metal die to shear through low-strength materials such as cardboard, plastic, or foil.

Die Lines – A diagram of a package design showing all events, such as folds, creases, cuts, perforations and bleeds.

Digital Printer – An industrial scale-press with the ability to print in multiple colours simultaneously.

Direct Print – This is a type of printing that penetrates the surface of the packaging, instead of a label or laminate that goes on top of the product.

Drop Test –   A procedure used to test the safety of package contents during shipping.

Dimensions – Box dimensions are expressed as length x width x height, always using inside dimensions.

Deckle – The width of the board being corrugated.

Double Wall Board  – Two layers of corrugated material which are combined to give the overall cardboard extra strength.

Duplex  – A double-walled board with a coated exterior to make it more water-resistant.

DPI –  Considered as “dots per square inch,” a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers and monitors.



Embossing The process of raising letters or designs out of the typical viewing surface of the board.

Edge Crush Test (ECT)  – A corrugated board strength test of vertical crush resistance (stacking strength).

Enhanced Fluting – Fluting that adds strength and performance to the material.

EPSIs a common file format for exporting Illustrator files. It also contains a bitmap preview of the image as well as instructions written in the postscript language that describes how the object is to be printed.



FatigueWeaknesses in materials caused by repeated impact or stresses.

FEFCOThe European Federation of corrugated board manufacturers are a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of the corrugated industry.

FEFCO Case CodesA set of standard design patterns used within the corrugated industry.

Finishes – printed paper or board can be coated using machine varnish (matt or gloss), UV varnish (high gloss) or film laminate (high gloss or matt).

FoilA thin layer of metal applied to paper, board, or mylar carrier for hot stamping.

Four Colour Process Full-colour printing that uses four constituent colours: CMYK – Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, and Black.

Flexography – Is a type of rotary printing using flexible plates and fast-drying, water-based inks.

Flexo Folder Gluer – Machine, usually capable or running at high speed that prints, folds, cuts, and glues sheets of corrugated board, converting them into shipping boxes.

Flush Fit – A term that refers to a base and lid having the same length and width, creating smooth sides where the lid rim does not extend past the outside perimeter of the base.

Flute – The central layer in corrugated board separating the liners and providing strength and rigidity.

Flap – Extension of the sidewall panels that, when sealed, close the remaining openings of a box, usually defined by one scoreline and three edges.

Flatbed Die Cutting A process used for cutting, creasing and embossing sheet materials. The die is pressed onto material that is itself on a flat surface (the bed).

Flat Pack Packaging which is flat when shipped to minimise transit costs.

Flute CorrugationThe wave-like shapes that comprise the overall construction of corrugated boards.

Flute Direction – Either vertical or horizontal. The flute direction is important as it creates strength from any corrugated board.

Fibre, Moulded Pulp – The substances that packaging materials are made from.



GSM – The weight of paper in terms of grams per square metre.

Glue Flap – The flap on the end of a carton that is applied with glue and adhered to the opposite end to form the carton.

Grain – The direction of the majority of the fibers in the board.

Gloss– A coating which provides a higher reflection of light, resulting in an appearance of shine. It provides good colour definition and contrast.

Glued– A box can be folded and glued on machines to transform the flat material into a finished product.

Gutter The inside margins or gap between items is the gutter space allowance used to accommodate the unusable print area.

GrayscaleApplication of black ink for print that simulates a range of tones where a grayscale graphic image appears to be black, white, and shades of gray, but it only uses a single colour ink.

GradientA gradual transition of colours used to add depth, colour the object, or render a shiny/ metallic look to a design element. A gradient is mostly linear (straight) or radial (fades from the center outwards). Web images that use gradient fills should be saved in jpeg format.



Hickey – Printing defects such as spots/ imperfections in printed items due to particles of ink or board fiber getting “trapped” onto the printing plate or blanket.

Hinge – a component that attaches two pieces of the package together but allow movement of one or both pieces along its axis.

Hinged Lid – lid attached to a box on one side.



Insert – Any shape of chipboard, vac-form, or foam placed or attached into a box to hold the product.

Impact Strength (or resistance)- The ability a package holds to withstand mechanical shock.

Image Resolution – The sharpness of an image; the number of pixels per unit area in an image expressed as dpi (dots per inch).

Inline – Usually used to refer to die-cutting machinery that also incorporates printing capabilities. The packaging is cut and printed “in line” in a single pass.



JPEG – The term stands for Joint Photographic Electronic Group. It is a common file format for full-colour and black-and-white graphic images. JPEG images allow for more colours than GIF images and are usually smaller in size. Unlike GIF and PNG, JPEGs don’t support transparent backgrounds.

Joint- The opposite edges of the blank glued, stapled, wire stitched, or taped together to form a box.



Keyline –  In artwork, an outline drawing of finished art indicates the exact shape, position, and size for elements such as halftones, line sketches, cut and fold lines, and other design elements.

KraftBrown paper or paperboard which has been produced from virgin pulp in the pulping process. It is made out of natural unbleached wood fibres.



Lamination –  A thin plastic film (either glossy or matte) used on the covers of a printed board to give protection

Liner – Creased fiberboard sheet inserted as a sleeve in a container and covering all sidewalls. Used to provide extra stacking strength or cushioning.

Landscape (orientation)- A page or layout that is wider than its height.

Lid or Cover – A removable or attached “top” for a container or box to enclose the contents.

Lithography– The printing of flat surfaces by the use of plates.

Litho Laminated Print– A high quality printed and coated press sheet affixed to the corrugated board prior to the die-cut process.



Machine Erect – A line of packaging which can be fully or partially erected by a mechanical machine.

Makeready – the work associated with set-up of equipment before running a job.

Matte Finish – A dull paper finish without gloss or luster.

MOQ – An acronym for minimum order quantity, a supplier may only deal with customers who order the minimum or above.

Multipoint Gluing – Glue is applied to the packaging at several points simultaneously allowing for intricate designs. See also crash lockboxes.



Nesting– Placing trays or covers of the same size, generally for shipping, or boxes of varying sizes, one within another.



Offset Litho– Mass production printing using the offset printing technique.

Offset Printing (Lithography)– The process means transferring ink from a printing plate to a rubber blanket or roller and then subsequently to the sheet. A practical method for multiple colour labelling.

Overs – the extra printed products delivered to a customer over and above the net amount ordered.

Overprint–The process of printing one colour on top of another.

OverlapDesign feature wherein the top and/or bottom flaps of a box do not butt, but extend one over the other. The amount of overlap is measured from flap edge to flap edge.



Pantone –An international system that designates colours for printing reference used for matching colours and printing inks.

Pallets- A flat transport structure which supports goods stably, often in the form of wood. Allows for easy lifting and movement by forklifts.

Pad- Corrugated or solid fiberboard sheet, or sheet of other authorized material, used for extra protection or for separating tiers or layers of articles when packed for shipment.

Palletizing- Securing and loading containers on pallets for shipment as a single unit load, typically for handling by mechanical equipment.

Panel- A “face” or “side” of a box.

Paperboard- One of the two major product categories of the paper industry, Containerboard and Boxboard. Includes the broad classification of materials made of cellulose fibers, primarily wood pulp and recycled paper stock, on board machines. (The other major product group of the paper industry is paper, including printing and writing papers, packaging papers, newsprint and tissue.)

Partition- Set of corrugated, solid fiberboard or chipboard pieces that interlock when assembled to form a number of cells into which articles may be placed for shipment.

PDF- Portable document format is a file type often used to send print materials to a print shop. It is also useful for the web when there are multi-paged documents, reports, and forms.

Ply- Any of the several layers of linerboard or solid fiberboard.

Point – Term used to describe the thickness or caliper of paperboard, where one point equals one thousandth of an inch.

Puncture Resistance – Puncture resistance of combined board indicates the ability of the finished container to withstand external and internal point pressure forces and to protect the product during rough handling. This method is used on heavy double wall and triple wall as an alternative to burst.

Printing Plate – An anodized aluminum plate which has a light-sensitive coating applied. Once exposed (to the image) and developed, the image area is sensitized to receive ink. It’s essential to realize that each colour in a printing job requires a separate plate.

Proof – A printed sample of work to be checked for errors in the text, positioning, or quality of colour reproduction.

Partitions (Dividers) – Are slotted cardboard pieces fitted together or creased and folded to form a series of compartments in a base.

Point Of Sale (POS) Display – The abbreviated name of the Point of Purchase (Point Of Sale) Displays, promotional displays often made of sturdy corrugated board, they have very visible signage and shelve the products they are advertising.

PSD – Adobe Photoshop document/file extension.



Resolution- Refers to the degree of detail of an image. It is measured in dots per inch (DPI) or lines per inch (LPI). A high resolution gives an excellent quality image and vice versa.

RGB- The RGB colour model is an additive colour model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colours.

Rotary Die Cutting– Die-cutting on a cylinder rotary press which is often done inline with printing. Dies used in rotary die cutting are solid engraved dies, adjustable dies, or magnetic plate tooling.

Registration – The positioning of one process onto another. Registration can affect how the printed sheet looks if the colors do not line up correctly. Registration can affect the die cutting, if the die does not line up correctly to the print.



Sampling-Creation of a prototype to allow customer approval before mass production.

Sleeves- A printed or plain sleeve that will slide over products to provide brand and product information.

Substrates- In printing, the substrate is the base material on which the designs will be printed on.

Scoring- Making an impression or crease in a box to facilitate bending, folding, or tearing.

Scored and Slotted Sheet- Sheet of corrugated fiberboard with one or more scorelines, slots or slits. May be further defined as a box blank, a box part, a tray or wrap, a partition piece, or an inner packing piece.

Seam- Junction created by any free edge of a container flap or panel where it abuts or rests on another portion of the container and to which it may be fastened by tape, stitches or adhesive in the process of closing the container.

Shelf Ready Packaging – Term used to detail products that come in an outer transit box that converts into a unit to display the contents in a retail environment.

Slit Cut made in a fiberboard sheet without removal of material.

Slit Score Cut made in a fiberboard sheet through only a portion of the thickness in a box blank to allow its flaps and sides to be folded into a shipping box.



Tooling–  Physical equipment used to create elements such as a die or mold.

Telescope Box–  A box in which the sides and ends of the lid are cut the same depth as the sides and ends of the base. Also, the lid fits over the base. Thumbcuts are recommended to avoid a loose fit.

Tray– Base of the box.



UV Coating- A gloss service treatment that is cured using ultraviolet radiation.



VarnishA clear ink applied on-press to printed surfaces for looks and protection.

Vector- A graphic which is comprised of paths and are defined by start and end points. As a vector image is not made up of a number of dots they can be scaled and not lose any quality.

Virgin Material – A previously unused and unrecycled material.



Wastage- Components or packages produced that do not meet a required quality standard.

Web – An unbroken sheet of paper or paperboard.

Wrap – A sheet of material that is glued to the outside of a structure formed by cardboard to finish a box.