I think this is a simple question, but it confuses me when I am creating sentences. I make a few searches on Google and find out that the words are not synonymous.

But in what context I will use "packing" and "packaging" in the correct way?

5 Answers 5


You'll often see P&P as an additional costed item on commercial websites, but they don't always say what it stands for. I'm an eBay user, and I can assure you that they show no consistency whatsoever about whether it's Post or Postage, and Packing or Packaging.

Also note that Google Books claims 31K instances of post and packing, and 17K post and packaging (plus 125K/11K for postage and packing/packaging). They're all in common use, and it's inconceivable they mean different things.

So for that context, at least, I think it's fair to say packing, packaging are indeed synonyms. It's pointless trying to disambiguate by saying packing is the process, and packaging is the material. Most people are like eBay, and don't really make a distinction; some people would make precisely the opposite distinction.

For other contexts there are a wide range of distinctions. Software application packaging, for example, is never called application packing, and software packing alignment is never packaging alignment.

In short, the two words are sometimes synonyms, and sometimes not. Within the confines of an ELL answer it would be impossible to summarise all the different contexts where only one term is "correct". The best advice I could give is...

always use the simpler packing (whether it's as a gerund/noun, or a "continuous aspect" verb) unless in your specific context you've already noticed that most other people are using packaging.


Well in the way I am used to see it:

  • Packing: From the verb to pack, Refers to the process of packing something up
I am packing for my trip
  • Packaging: (noun) Refers to the package of the product
I don't like the packaging of that product

Also, I don't think packaging is commonly used in informal contexts, you would mostly use "package".

But I have heard it when you are talking about a product in a commercial way. For example a team deciding on what is the best packaging for the product they are selling.

Also in software companies (or companies that produce software for internal use) they refer as packaging to the process that applications undergo so they can be used by the customers. For example they Create the Installation package and verify it can run in the different systems it is meant to be run.


About they not being synonyms as you mentioned. Maybe they are not marked as synonyms, but if you check at the definitions for the Nouns packing and packaging, you can see they basically mean the same, while it seems packaging might be a bit more "technical".

So if:

  • You want a Noun to name the "package" itself you can use either Packing (definition 5) or Packaging (definition 2). Although if you think your sentence could be ambiguous in the sense that people may read packing as a verb, you should use packaging.

  • You want to refer to the action of creating the package, then use Packing.(Like I am packing ...) You can not say "I am packaging my cloths" since packaging is not a verb.

  • You want to refer to the act or instance of packing or forming packages, like the First definition for Packaging says. You use Packaging, because It makes more relevant the idea of packaging as a process (like in software development).

  • "packaging is not a verb." - Yes it is. You gave an example of that yourself: the action of preparing software for distribution is called packaging. "Let me package that up for you" is something that you could say about a physical product. But it doesn't apply everywhere that packing does: you wouldn't say "I'm packaging my suitcase".
    – nnnnnn
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 5:04

+1 Good question.

The words are confusing especially in case of FMCGs. I'll try to answer my way and this could be applied in sentences you make.

Broadly, packaging and packing means something is wrapped or kept as it is in another thing. The sole purpose of this is to keep the main product safe, shock-proof and in some cases to attract the consumers (especially packing).

Now, let's see the subtlety -

Packaging is generally done by the factory owners as a final process where packed goods are further packaged into bigger boxes, cartons or whatsoever. On the other hand, packing is an augmented activity that adds value to the product inside (for instance, a sexy lady's arousing picture on a little wrapper of condoms).

Packing is something that's visible to the end users. Imagine you going to a supermarket and talking to your friend about the wonderful packing of a soap bar. Here, you cannot talk about the packaging because you haven't seen how those soap bars arrived in bulk in carton at the supermarket.

If you think microscopically, packaging would generally happen in a box whereas packing happens in anything. Others opine that packing is a verb and packaging is a noun - the material used in packing.

Let's make things clear with pictures -

This is a typical example of packaging -

Typical example of packaging

This is a typical example of packing (though gift) -

Image for illustration only

This gives us an idea (in case of goods)

packing generally brings aesthetic value so that it looks good to the user/receiver/customer
packaging generally brings safety/security to avoid the damage to the product inside.

Soap's packing should be done with a wrapper (a thin, silky, shining paper) with a beautiful lady's picture on it. This will attract customers but then the packaging should be done using hard-box with product's name, batch number, address of manufacturers and other details (I'll least bothered about the lady's picture there!). This will make all the soaps inside safe and prevent damage when reach to the vendors.

Also note that when it comes to travelling or moving, the word packing is used more frequently over packaging. But this is made clear in this answer earlier that packaging generally happens in factories as the final process of making a (big?) parcel/box of packed items.

  • 1
    I agree with everything you've said here, except that in my understanding you have the terms backwards; "packaging" adds the aesthetic value and "packing" adds safety.
    – Hellion
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 20:09
  • @Hellion: haha - I said in my own answer that if anybody were to propose a distinction between the two, someone else might make exactly the opposite distinction! In this case it's based on aesthetics/functionality rather than process/material, but the principle is the same. None of us really like "synonyms", so we look for some way to distinguish potential candidates. But it'll probably be a while yet before a consensus emerges. Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 21:20
  • @Hellion Well, there, I talked about the noun that people would understand. Yes, I did miss to mention it. When you look at a beautifully packed soap, the packing has an attractive lady on it.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 3:32
  • That's exactly what I disagree with, @Maulik: When I look at beautifully packaged soap, the packaging has an attractive lady on it. And I expect to find 100 packages of soap packed inside a cardboard box. :-)
    – Hellion
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 1:49

Packing and Packaging are two different terms that can use in a different place.

Packing: This Word refers to the term "The action to perform Something or Pack something."

let suppose before going to somewhere you usually pack your luggage This action refers to Packing.

While Packaging refers to other terms. Packaging is related to a product to pack them. It mainly Belongs to the thing in which we pack something. It may be paper or kraft material or Cardboard material.


refer to google packaging is materials used to wrap or protect goods but packing means the action or process of packing something. "all the ingredients and packaging are biodegradable" "she finished her packing"

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .