Folding Carton Design

A beautiful folding carton starts with a well-thought-out design. Thoro Packaging has design capabilities that span across standard carton design configurations as well as complex custom carton design and printing requirements. Use the guides below to reference some of the most common carton design elements, a glossary of some common carton design and printing terms, and carton packaging tips.

Standard Carton Styles


Any material used to adhere one surface to another.

Automatic Bottom Carton (auto-bottom)

A pre-glued folding carton bottom construction having multiple folded flaps which position themselves to form a composite bottom panel when the carton is erected.

Tray Style Carton

A general classification of folding cartons incorporating a solid bottom with sidewalls hinged thereto.


The end portions of the top or bottom flaps of a folding paper box (carton), which are inserted inside the container to hold the end (top or bottom) flaps in place.

Tuck End Carton

A carton consisting of four or more panels that are folded completely around to make a tube or box. To close the tube there will be on both ends either tuck flaps, seal and flaps or other type flaps or locks. (See sleeve).

U.V. Coatings

Coatings that consist of momeric and resinous vehicles that are polymerized in the presence of ultraviolet radiation with the end of a plastic film that shrinks photoinitiator.

U.V. Inks

Printing inks that consist of a polymeric vehicle, which is polymerized in the presence of ultraviolet radiation.

Varnish (finishing/coating)

A transparent protective coat over a printed surface, which may impart a desired characteristic appearance.

Virgin Material

A material that has not been subjected to use or processing other than that required for its manufacture.

Water-Based Coating (Aqueous)

Coating materials that contain polymeric components suspended, emulsified, or dissolved, in an aqueous carrier. Volatile portion contains a minimum of 80% by weight

Water-Based Ink (Aqueous)

Printing inks (usually flexographic) containing a resin that is solubalized in water by increasing the pH, or that contain polymeric components, which are emulsified or dissolved in an aqueous carrier.

WCCK (White Clay Coated Kraft)

Paperboard that has a good printing surface and good strength because of Kraft backing, also called CCNK – Clay Coated Natural Kraft.

WCCN (White Clay Coated Newsprint)

A newsboard with a white clay coating on one side, also called CCNB – Clay Coated Newsboard (see newsboard).


The cutout area on the face of a container, usually covered with a when heated, thus producing a tight, neat fit, transparent film, for the purpose of rendering the contents visible.

Design Guide

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Once you are happy with the structure sample and estimate, Thoro will provide you with a die line to create your artwork.

We can provide our customers with a design structure mock-up from your printed artwork proof, as well as a full-color, three-dimensional mock-up of the finished product prior to production.


Let’s start with the carton’s shape. The order of the box dimensions is essential to creating your structure design. The diagram below provides a visual reference.

Length x Width x Depth

Length x Width x Depth


To determine the proper length, width and depth of an existing structure, place the carton facing you with the opening up. Dimensions should be measured from the center of score to center of score, and given to the nearest sixteenth of an inch. Always refer to the outside dimensions of the carton.


All Thoro cartons are custom-made structures that often include various elements of common folding carton styles and closures. Please refer to our styles collection for reference when requesting a quote and design sample.

Packaging Tips

Package design is an important part of your products success. There are a lot of Best Practices that you should follow. Here are some tips that we think are good to know.

Follow the Rules

There are a lot of regulations and requirements for packaging, especially in the food and medical/pharmaceutical industry. Make sure you are carefully following all FDA labeling requirements, and international agency regulations for products to be sold outside of the U.S. Plus, your large retail chains and club stores usually have strict packaging requirements by product category, so be sure and check with your buyers for guidance before you begin the design process.

Packaging is Both a Science and an Art

Large consumer product manufacturers spend a great deal of time and resources on their packaging, testing what works good, what works better and ultimately what sells “now”. So what can the average product distributor do to develop the perfect packaging for their product(s)?

Remember that packaging is important to the protection and marketing of your business, it has both a production cost and an even bigger cost if it’s not done well and results in diminished sales. Do your own research, look at the competition, ask your retail establishments what they require and/or recommend, and get help from packaging and marketing experts. Even if you trust and rely on a single graphic artist for all of your marketing projects, make sure they either have experience with packaging or ask them to seek expert advice before tackling the project.

Thoro has a team of paperboard, structural design, graphic design, ink and printing experts that are always available for customer consultations.