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Package Design Essentials

Jake Gulick

Package Design Essentials

Here at Wingate Packaging we produce cartons for all types of products and processes.

Size, style, and substrate are the 3 critical elements to every folding carton.


The size of a carton seems pretty straightforward, but in my experience, there is more to a carton than just its length, width, and depth.

At a minimum your carton needs to be able to fit your product inside it… But what about “billboard” space?

Billboard space is the front facing part of your carton, the area that stands out in the marketplace to catch the consumers eye. If your product is small, billboard space is minimal. Embellishments can be added to the appeal of your carton - you can read about enhancements here. For now, billboard space is the one that directly affects the size of your carton.


Figuring out the ideal size of your carton can have a lot to do with how your product is displayed.

  • Will it be hung on a peg?
  • On a shelf or in a freezer surrounded by similar products?
  • In a tray, on display at point of sale?
  • In a display shipper on a pallet at a club type store?

These questions help determine exactly how large your carton can be, while maintaining balance with an appropriate size for the product.

Another important question is, how will your product be packed? Is it 3 items wide and 2 items deep for a wider, landscape orientation, billboard space? Or maybe, stacked 2 items high and 3 items deep for more of a profile look to the billboard space?

At Wingate, we can help you find the answers to these questions. We'll help you explore options to determine the ideal package size for your product. If you already have a size, that’s great! But if not, or you aren’t confident in what you already have, we are here to help.

Send us your products, specs, or samples through our secure FTP. We can create you white board mock-up carton options specific to your product. These will help you determine the perfect size for your carton.


The dictionary defines style as:

At Wingate Packaging, we define the style of your carton not just by how it appears in its final form, but by the process it goes through on its journey to its final form.

In another blog we will go through the different types of cartons, but for now what you need to know is that style can change the cost of your carton and Its functionality. Two cartons of the same length, width, and depth will have the same volume. If they are different styles of cartons, they may require different amounts of paper to produce them.

For example:

The Full Seal End carton is glued during the filling process, usually by a machine that requires flaps of a certain size to overlap each other.

The Straight Tuck End carton does not require glue, but does require “tuck flaps” that lock into other flaps on the carton. This style is versatile enough that it can be filled manually, or by a machine.

The Auto-Bottom Tuck Top carton has a similar Tucking feature on the top, but the bottom is pre-glued to allow the carton to “pop” open and lock for filling. Usually done by hand.

Please note that all 3 of these examples have the same volume (Length x Width x Depth) but have different “Blank” or “flat” sizes. Not only is the blank size a determining factor for cost, but so is the complexity of the carton.

The Auto Bottom carton requires special equipment to glue. No worries - here at Wingate we have that equipment, but it is cost-added. This is because it takes more raw materials, (Glue) and runs through the gluing process at a slower speed, meaning more machine time/man-hours to produce finished cartons. However, if your filling process is 100% manual, these cartons will flow through your process faster.

That being said, the style of the carton will not just effect the cost of the carton, but also the cost to fill it, and essentially a production bottom line.

The product in the carton can also determine the style.
  • Most food items go into Full Seal Ends, so that any tampering is more evident.
  • Heavy items might not do well in Auto-bottoms Without the addition of a full flap to help support the weight.
  • RFID tags for theft prevention are usually added to the carton, so a carton that doesn’t seal is a thief’s friend.
At Wingate, we’ve got style, lots of it… Lots of styles of cartons that is.

We can design multiple styles of cartons to fit your product’s needs and really help with the “elegance and sophistication” that defines your products style.


The type of paperboard your carton is produced on can say a lot about your company and product.

At Wingate we have a little bit of something for everyone - from plain white board or a natural brown finish all the way to metalized holofoil board.

We can dress your carton down, or dress it up. Some substrates are made for direct food contact. Some are specific to items that go in a refrigerator/freezer.

Your product and its weight have a lot to do with what substrate we use. Different substrates have different costs associated.

These days, many people take environmental impact into account. We are proud to offer a 100% recycled board option, and a 100% recyclable board option.

Our capabilities allow us to produce cartons between .012 and .030 calipers.

We can also offer Solid Bleached Sulfate with a high level of optical brightening agents for high-end printing.

Structural Integrity

Simply put, consumers don’t want to purchase a product with damaged packaging.

Creating a correctly sized carton, with the right style, on the right substrate is how we lay the foundation of a great package at Wingate Packaging.

All other embellishments to make your package stand out are standing on these cornerstones.

No matter what else you do to make your package stand out, it’s no good if it doesn’t fit.

It is no good if it can’t make it through filling, and it’s no good if it gets damaged because it’s on the wrong substrate.

Consult with us at Wingate Packaging, Inc. to ensure your products get brandworthy, custom packaging.

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