What Is A Dieline?

What is a dieline?

💡 Considerations for optimizing dielines
What are Dielines?
Why Dielines Matter
The Die-cutting Process

When shopping around and designing your new custom boxes, you will hear the term dieline packaging shot around quite a bit!

To the uninitiated, this may seem like a technical term that only a packaging whiz would understand.

So, what is a dieline?

The term simply refers to a design template for an unassembled box.

The template is made digitally with lines to indicate how to cut and construct the box.

Example of any box having a dieline as a starting point
Source: The Dieline

Here we aim to break down precisely what box dielines are, their purpose, other accompanying terms, and more to make sure you’re fully prepared for entering the custom packaging world.

Let’s start with the basics!

What are Dielines?

As mentioned previously, a box dieline in packaging is a guideline used when constructing a printed box for your product and designed in programs like Adobe Illustrator.

A dieline is a diagram displaying where a die-cutting machine needs to fold and cut a flattened package before it’s assembly.

Dielines are a crucial element of standard box construction and offers cutting, folding and printing guidelines for any box you desire!

Things like food and beverage packages, brochures, and just about any product requiring a custom box uses dielines for packaging production.

example of a dieline

A dieline also helps you plan your artwork designs.

You’re able to envision how and where your artwork will be displayed.

Dielines make this easier as you’re able to see all sides through the flat construction of your box.

Think of it this way; your dieline is your canvas!

Why Dielines Matter

Dielines act as the blueprint for the machine and provide the main template for your packaging artwork.

Given that they provide the main template for the artwork, dielines play a vital role in the die-cutting process.

Think of it as a blueprint that ensures accuracy in all physical elements of the final printed product, including:

  • Exact packaging dimensions.
  • Placement of printed logos, images, and texts.
  • Cutlines, bleed lines, fold lines, creases, glue tabs, and other connection points.
Example of product fitting. in package perfectly
Source: Graphic Mama

Following the drawing of the dielines, you will have a pretty good idea of how the package will look when it’s all put together.

The Die-cutting Process

Die-cutting machines cut out your packaging using a die.

A die is a specialized tool used in manufacturing industries to cut or shape material mostly using a press.

Like molds, dies are generally customized to the item they are used to create.

To properly use a die-machine, you must first create a set of dies that match the desired shapes of your flattened, unassembled dielines.

Dies are thin metal shapes with a raised outline on one side, which cuts through your chosen packaging material.

After creating a dieline for your package, a die-cutting machine will put pressure on a die using rollers and cutting plates to push through the package’s material and create a precise shape and size for your packaging.

Your dielines create a precise guideline for the die cutting machine to create and manufacture your exact packaging design through the die-cutting process.

Note: Your dielines are printed onto large sheets and the die cutting machine precisely cuts the material on a mass scale.


After deciding on your box’s exact measurement, you must use Adobe Illustrator or a  similar program to create the dieline before placing it in an InDesign document of the same size.

Dielines must also be created as vector art because the die-cutting machine requires precise lines to ensure an accurate cut.

Be sure to work alongside your designer and other coworkers to promote collaboration and creativity and avoid making minuscule mistakes that may cost you a lot to fix after production.

Example of vector image for packaging mock ups

Avoiding minuscule mistakes means keeping these key lines in mind before sending your dielines out for production!

Fold line

The fold line is just as it sounds: it is where you fold a flattened package.

These lines are usually red and show you where the package’s creases will be and where you must fold to create your 3 dimensional box.


Just as the fold lines show where to fold, the cutlines show where to cut.

The cutlines are usually black and act as a map for the die-cutting machines.

Bleed Line

The bleed line separates the excess space from the space that will be used by the packaging.

The bleed line is used outside of the cutline to prevent a white border from forming around the design’s edge – a crucial part in ensuring your customers feel as if they are opening a quality product.

Creating a dieline is an essential part of the custom packaging process.

The packaging for a product is a vital part of marketing and is just as important as the product.

Example of marketing on packaging
Source: Yellow Bess

Your dieline must be precise because your package is one of your company’s primary ways of interacting and forming a connection with your customers.

A poorly designed box due to imprecise cuttings or creases or incorrectly placed bleed lines will lead to an unsightly package.

This will lead to a lesser experience for the customer and ultimately raise your custom packaging costs!

Think of it this way; if you get your dieline right the first time around, you won’t have to spend more on fixing the issues and reproducing your packaging.

Creating dielines may not be your expertise, and that’s completely fine!

Sourcing solution providers that offer full cycle project management will be able to help you create the dieline of your dreams!