What is a folding carton formats?

In short, boxes are different from one another when it comes to the closing type and the way the end user interacts with the box and with the contents inside. That is what we call a style.

Let’s see what the folding carton styles are.

1. Straight Tuck Box (ST)
Straight tuck boxes are one of the most common types of boxes that work for a variety of industries. The top and bottom closure panels are attached to the same main panel.
A straight tuck box folds from front to back in the same direction. Usually, a straight tuck end box has slit locks that secure the tucks in place.

The slit locks from each closing flap keep the top and bottom of the box in place, securing the contents inside the box.

A Straight Tuck box works ideally with more lightweight products, but it can also safely accommodate a heavier product, like a perfume bottle or a cream jar. 

Straight Tuck Box Features

1. Ideal for light weight and medium weight products. 2. Zero assembly needed
3. Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
4. Can hold cutouts without compromising integrity
5. Slit locks for secure closing
Cost per piece a bit higher than Reverse Tuck because they don’t “nest” on the paper sheet as well, and thus more paper is used

Reverse Tuck Box (RT)

Reverse tuck boxes are very similar to straight tuck boxes, except for the closing panels. One closing panel is attached to the back of the box, while the other closing panel is attached to the front. They fold in opposite directions.

Lock Bottom Box (LB)

Also called 1-2-3 bottom boxes, lock bottom boxes are especially designed to hold heavier items. The bottom flaps push into each other, forming a very sturdy base that won’t open under the weight of the product inside.

For the top closure, they generally have a tuck top panel with either friction locks or slit locks.

Lock Bottom Box Features

  • Ideal for heavier products (candles, glass jars)
  • Usually with a tuck top closure
  • Easy three-step assembly
  • Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
  • Can hold cutouts without compromising integrity
  • Items stack perfectly thanks to the flat bottom

Crash Bottom Box (CB)

Crash bottom boxes, or auto-lock bottom, are another good choice to package heavier items that need extra bottom support. They are also referred to as auto-lock bottom boxes, or auto-bottom boxes.

Crash Bottom Box Features

  • The strongest option for heavy products
  • Pre-glued bottom for extra strength
  • Usually with a tuck top closure
  • Zero assembly needed, just “pop” them open
  • Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
  • Can hold cutouts
  • Items stack perfectly thanks to the flat bottom

One-piece Tuck Top Boxes (TT)

The tuck top box is a very strong and durable box type thanks to its double side walls. As a shape, it’s similar to a mailer box, but made out of paperboard. The double-wall tuck top box has one opening to the top, with two closing flaps that fold into the bottom of the box with a friction lock.

Tuck Top Box Features

  • Fits a wide range of products
  • Ideal for displaying multiple items in the same box
  • Extra design space on the tucking flaps
  • Double walls mean extra strength
  • Easy assembly
  • Snap locking tabs at the bottom and friction locks for the top closing
  • Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
  • Can hold cutouts

Two-Piece Boxes (TP)

Also called Simplex Tray or Kwikset Tray, two-piece boxes are an elegant packaging solution that works for any kind of product, especially for luxury products, sweet assortments, or product kits with multiple items.

They are formed of a tray and a lid, and both components have a double-wall structure, which makes the box very strong and durable. Custom inserts that keep your products into place can also be added inside the box.

Two-Piece Box Features

  • Fits a wide range of products
  • Both tray and lid can be used in a display setting
  • Double walls (glued rollover walls)
  • Easy assembly
  • Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
  • Ideal in combination with a box sleeve

Holster Boxes (HOL)

A holster box, also called a half box, is a box where the top is completely open, without any closing tucks. They are ideal for soap bars or any item where you want the top part of your product to be visible. The box is closed at the bottom with a straight tuck or a lock bottom.

The top opening of the holster boxes can be customized in a special shape, so you don’t need to have a straight line. You can cut the opening in the form of your logo, add cutouts to other areas as well, and even have one of the panels higher or lower than the other.

Holster Box Features

  • Ideal for soap bars or any product where you want a part of it visible
  • Straight-tuck bottom or lock-bottom
  • Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
  • Can hold cutouts
  • Top opening can be cut in a custom shape (doesn’t have to be a straight line)

Sleeve Packaging (SE)

A sleeve is a box with no ends that wraps around the product container, adding another level of customization and protection to all types of boxes.

Box sleeves can be customized with your specific information just like any other box, and you can order small quantity boxes if you’re looking to target your products to different audiences or sell them in seasonal batches or for different occasions. Sleeves boxes can also hold cutouts and special embellishments.

Sleeve Box Features

  • Ideal for quickly upgrading a blank box to a custom box
  • Perfect for testing new products (more affordable than a full box)
  • Easily slide over the product or box
  • Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
  • Can hold cutouts
  • Can be made in custom shapes
  • Very cost-effective, uses less paper

Counter Display Boxes

Display boxes, or pop-up boxes refer to a box or folding carton that has two purposes: to package the contents or display the contents inside.

When the lid of the folding carton is opened, it becomes the header, offering extra promotional space. If the box is closed, it protects and carries the items inside.

A display box can be situated to create a display that will easily fit on a counter or shelf. Depending on your needs, you can create a display box with removable perforations or just folding parts.

Counter Display Box Features

  • Two boxes in one: utilize your bulk packaging as a display box
  • Ideal for selling smaller items as “grab-and-go”
  • Dispenser-style available
  • Fully customizable for bigger visual impact
  • Easy assembly and opening
  • Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
  • Can hold cutouts
  • Can have premade perforations, scored panels or cutout areas

Five-panel Hanger Box

A five panel hanger box is a Reverse Tuck End box with a hanger panel that extends from the back panel. The hanger panel has a hole that helps you display or hang your products on display shelves or on hook panels for retail display.

Five-Panel Hanger Box Features

  • Ideal for light weight products
  • Fully customizable
  • Easy assembly
  • Compact storage (boxes come in flat)
  • Can hold cutouts
  • Can have inserts

Boxes with Inserts

An insert is a piece of paperboard that is cut and sometimes glued to help secure the product(s) within the folding carton. For example, an insert can be found in a glass bottle box, to prevent the glass bottle from moving. Or it can be inside a lip balm display box or a multiple-piece makeup kit, in which case it can also act as a divider.

Inserts Features

  • Recommended for medium, light-weight or fragile products that need to stay in place
  • Useful to arrange multiple smaller items in the same box
  • Inserts add an extra level of protection to the product
  • Can be custom-made to fit exactly the shape and size of your product
  • Work with any box type

Boxes with Custom Cutouts

A cutout or knockout in a folding carton refers to a design element where the paperboard is cut out of the design to show the contents inside the box. This cutout is created within the cut die.

We have a few standard boxes with cutouts in our free library, and you can also leverage the power of cutouts by creating a custom cutout that’s unique to your brand.

Cutout Features

  • Work with any product or industry
  • Do not compromise the integrity of the box if designed correctly
  • Can be made in any shape
  • Anywhere on the box (including edges)
  • Free cutout box dies available
  • Custom cutouts require a custom die (one-time fee)

Boxes with Thumb Tabs

Thumb tabs are circular cutouts made on the main panels of the box to facilitate an easy opening.

The thumb tabs can be placed at the top, at the bottom or at both sides of the box depending on your design and needs.

There is always numerous possibilities when it comes to developing cartons. Printers are always willing to look at all possibilities to develop a customised one to fit the product.

The above are resources collected to educate print buyers and printers about the basic carton designs .


Published by Panthala Selvan

Authorised partner for Kodak prepress workflow, Techkon Spectrodensitometers, cip3 solutions, colour management, packaging development etc

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