How to Measure Packages for Shipping

by Mary Lougee

Items you will need

  • Measuring tape
  • Paper and pen

Shipping companies base their rates on the total cubic inches of each package, the weight and destination. People send packages to friends and family at Christmas, on birthdays or for no particular reason. You can ship items that fit into boxes or mailing tubes for paperwork, calendars and documentation. Some items are unusually shaped and do not fit into a standard box. Taking the correct measurements and calculating the total cubic inches will help determine which agency you can ship through and their prices for services.

Step 1

Place the package on a flat surface. Measure the longest side of the box from side to side for the length measurement. Write down this measurement on paper with a pen.

Step 2

Measure the width of the package with a measuring tape. Write down the width on paper.

Step 3

Measure the height of the package from the bottom to the top. Write this measurement down.

Step 4

Multiply the width and height by 2 and add this total to the length for the total measurement of your package. For example, if the length is 12 inches, the width is 8 inches and the height is 5 inches, the total measurement is 8 x 2 + 5 x 2 + 12 or 38 inches.


  • Multiplying the height and width of the package by 2 and adding them together is the girth of a package or the size around the largest point if you measure the package around with a soft tape measure.

    Measure the largest area of the package to determine the girth on unusual shaped packages.

    The United States Postal Service accepts packages with total measurements of 130 inches for parcel post rates and other packages at highest postage rates up to 108 total inches in size.

    United Parcel Service accepts packages up to 150 pounds, 165 total inches and 108 inches in length.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images