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The Packaging Guide | The A to Z of Packaging Creative

Our A-Z Packaging Guide…

Packaging Guide


Artboard is a solid board made from 100% primary fibre with the same finish on both sides and is predominantly used in the printing industry for flat folding cartons, hangtags, sleeves, book covers, and business cards.


With a weight of up to 175gsm, Artpaper is the generic term given to wood-free coated papers, traditionally referred to papers in the quality bracket.  It has a slightly polished surface on either one or both sides.

Buckram-Embossed Paper

This is a very popular covering paper with a textured finish, available in a wide range of colours.  Can be locally sourced in the Far East and can be printed to CMYK and Pantones.


Generic term used to describe the thickness of a single sheet of material expressed in Microns (µm).


This term applies to a pack, which is usually cut from one piece of material, generally has one glue seam and can be supplied flat-packed. (Not to be confused with ‘shipping carton’ which is used by the export industry).

Castcoated Board

Castcoated board is a high quality folding boxboard coated to produce a high mirror gloss finish and is available in a variety of colours.

Coated Recycled Board (CRB)/Clay Coated News Back (CCNB)/Clay Coated Kraft Back (CCKB)

Coated Recycled Board (CRB) is made of 100% pre- or post- consumer recycled fibres and is coated with kaolin clay for enhanced printability. Commonly referred to as clay coated news back (CCNB) or clay coated Kraft back (CCKB), CRB is generally of multi-ply construction and is FDA-compliant for direct food contact, making it the ideal cost and performance alternative to virgin grades.


Chamois is a form of leatherette with a sand grain embossing pattern. It is available in a wide variety of colours.

Crash Lock Base (Auto Lock Base)

A method of gluing folding cartons to provide an instant closing base that locks into place.

Critical Dimensions

Critical Dimensions are the width of a line or space that has been identified as critical to the device being fabricated and/or to operate correctly.


Widely used dry colour laminate proofing system, made by DuPont, whereby powder (instead of ink) is used to reproduce colour on a proofing sheet.

Cut Card Platform/ Plinth

As the name suggests, this insert is a piece of card or PVC (acetate) usually with a hole of a particular shape cut out of it to support the object to be put in the box. Card platforms can be lined or unlined and can also serve as a shoulder.  Alternatively, to make it more decorative, the platform could be covered in fabric.

Cutter Guide

This is a document that the factory will use to create the shape of the product. It consists of guidelines that show the cuts, creases and perforations etc on the product. It will usually be to scale and have all the critical dimensions marked.

Cutting Tools

Die-cutting tools are required for the cutting and creasing of box/bag components. The design is normally produced on a CAD machine but the tool is normally made by hand.


In debossing an image such as a logo, a title, or other design is heat-pressed into the surface of the paper with a die, creating depressions rather than raised impressions as in embossing. The same techniques used for embossing — blind (without foil or ink), foil, and ink — can be used with debossing to create visual effects and texture. Debossing can be done on hard and soft covers.

Dots Per Inch (DPI)

DPI refers to the unit of measurement that gives the resolution of printed output.  300 dpi is the standard desktop laser printer output and is the minimum required for JPEG’s that are within artwork files.


The same as debossing, however the required pattern is raised and not depressed on to the product. The same finishes are available. Tends to be more popular then debossing.

EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)

EVA is one of the materials popularly known as ‘expanded rubber’ or ‘foam rubber’. Can be used to great effect for inserts, as it is durable and can be dyed. Can be successfully combined with sponge/foam to create lightweight versions.


Printed paper or board can be coated using machine varnish (matt or gloss), UV varnish (high gloss) or plastic film laminate (high gloss or matt).


A velvet-like finish which can be produced on paper for box covering or on PVC for use in vacuum-forming.


Foilboard is a term referring to any baseboard laminated with a metallic foil.

(Flat) Folding Carton

This is a generic term for any style of pack that can be supplied flat.

Folding Boxboard (FFB)

This is a high quality board made from 100% primary or virgin fibres and is consequently stiffer and smoother than WLC. FBB is normally used where direct contact with food is involved.


The grain direction of board refers to the direction of the majority of the fibres in the board. The significance of the grain direction is that board can only be curved in one direction and not the other. Fibres in the grain can be altered and shrunk in the recycling process, therefore giving the fibre in the grain a limited lifespan.


This is the standard grade of board used in the manufacture of rigid boxes and many cartons. It is made from up to 100% recycled post-consumer fibre and its name is derived from its colour. It is often laminated both side to hide the colour.


This stands for Grams per Square Metre and gives the density of the board or paper. Artpaper tends to be up to 175gsm and Artboard begins thereafter until approx 450gsm, where it then becomes a rigid board.


This term is used to describe any box/bag where the majority of the assembly and covering work has been done by hand due to the shape or complexity of the item. Most rigid boxes and luxury paper bags would fall into this category. Note however that the die cutting of all components of the item would still be done by machine prior to assembly.

Kraft Paper

Strong paper made from unbleached wood pulp that is naturally brown but may be dyed another colour (often white) and is frequently used for large envelopes, paper bags, wrapping papers, and towelling. A lighter grade of Kraft paper is used for newspapers and food packaging. Kraft, from a German word meaning sturdy, is inexpensive as well as strong. Kraft can be made with percentages of recycled material, which can reduce its strength.


To over lay a flat surface with a layer of thin or protective material. Can be film plastics (Matt or High Gloss), papers, foils etc. In paperboard manufacture ‘laminate’ refers to the joining of two or more materials. i.e  film laminate to artpaper.


An embossed paper which is made to look similar to leather. Sometimes called ‘faux’ leather.


Lining is the term applied when the inside of a box or platform is laminated with paper or other material.


This term describes a box or bag where all the manufacturing processes are performed by machines such as cutting and creasing presses. Cartons, flat-packed ballotins, and SOS bags would fall into this category.

Metal Clasp

A metal clasp is a decorative method of securing a lid.

Metal Hinge

As the name suggests, this is a small brass hinge mechanism designed for use with rigid boxes and lids. Hinges generally allow lids to open either through 180 or 90 degrees.

Micron (µm)

A term used to describe the thickness of material. 1µm is equal to one thousandth of a millimetre (1mm = 1000µm). For rigid boxes, 700-2000µm boards would normally be used depending on the size of the box. Boxes with curved faces, such as ovals, are limited to up 1000µm sides as anything thicker than this cannot be curled. Cartons can be made from a maximum of 900µm board. Transparent items would normally be made from 180 – 380µm PVC.

Pantone Matching System (PMS)

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a universally accepted colour matching guide offering a very extensive range of colour shades, each of which has a specific ink recipe and can be reproduced accurately. Ranges include Coated, Uncoated, Metallic and Pastel colours. Colour variation can occur on different material substrates.

Paper/Fabric Hinge

A paper hinge is made up of two pieces of card joined on both faces by covering paper. A small gap of a few millimetres is left between the card pieces, which then acts like a hinge along the line of the join. A fabric hinge works in the same way and provides added strength. Paper or fabric hinges would normally be found in boxes with flat-hinged lids or in the spine assembly of a book box.

PVC (Acetate) Windows

PVC windows are normally found in cartons where it is important that the product is visible. They can be positioned on a single face or can be wrapped around two or three faces of the box. They can also be designed such that they simply slot into place rather than having to be glued in. PVC windows can also be very effective in the lids of rigid boxes.

Offset Printing

Offset printing is used for high-volume reproduction.  It involves 3 drums that rotate (an impression cylinder, plate cylinder and blanket cylinder).  The process involves wrapping the printing plate over the plate cylinder that is inked and moistened.  Then the plate image is moved on the blanket cylinder.  The paper moves between the impression cylinder and blanket cylinder, allowing the image to pass onto the paper. Sometimes called ‘Rotary’ printing.

Ribbon Stays

These are customarily used with hinged boxes and lids to limit the extent to which the lid can open. Their purpose is to ensure that the hinge mechanism is not subjected to any unnecessary strain, as this might otherwise result in the hinge being gradually worked loose, thereby affecting the way the lid closes.

Ribbon Tabs

Ribbon tabs are most commonly used in boxes with hinged lids to help lift the lid.

Rigid Box

This term is used to describe any box that cannot be supplied flat-packed. As a result, a rigid box would normally be stronger and often more elaborate than a carton of a similar size.

Self Opening Sack (SOS)

A bag that can be opened with a quick flick of the wrist. The bag is constructed with tucks in the side and a preformed flat, square bottom, which permits it to stand upright when empty.


A shoulder sits proud of the base of the box and is designed to allow the lid to locate flush with the base, such as with a hinged box and lid or a flush fit lid box.


A sleeve is a very versatile and useful accessory with applications ranging from the protection of a delicate item to an alternative for a lid. A sleeve can be made from card or PVC (acetate).


Thumbholes are most commonly used on boxes with full depth lids to make it easier to lift the lid.

Turn Over Top (TOT)

The fold over on a hand made bag, often re-enforced with card and threaded with the handles.


When a rigid box is covered with any covering paper or material, the turn-in is the strip of covering paper visible on the inside of the box where it has been folded in over the top edge of the box. The turn-in would normally only extend about 10-15mm below the top edge of the box but, where boxes are fitted with platforms or base boards, often the turn-in comes down below the level of the platform or base board so that there is no white card visible at all. This is referred to as a deep or full turn-in.

Ultra Violet Varnishing

Often referred to as ‘Spot UV’. UV Varnish is a high gloss varnish applied to specific areas of a print. It is used to enhance the printed product with a high gloss effect – highlighting logos, pictures, and text or just to create a subtle effect on a solid area of print.

Vacuum-Formed Insert

These inserts are most commonly used in chocolate boxes but are just as effective for a variety of other products, such as cosmetics. Vac-form materials are available in different thicknesses and in many colours such as gold, white, brown or clear as well as smooth or flocked finishes.

White Lined Chipboard (WLC)

This is the standard grade of board used in the manufacture of rigid boxes and many cartons. It is made from 75% or more recycled fibre.

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