Which one is more English when you describe a product to tell people what is included in the packing?

And is there any difference between these two phrases?

  • Packing or package? Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 2:41

2 Answers 2


The origin of Packing List was that it was a set of instructions to the person doing the packing. It was sometimes called a picking and packing list.

When it became more common for the warehouse to leave the packing list in the box to be delivered, it took on a second life as a guide to the purchaser who could check that everything that was meant to be picked and packed had been. Strictly speaking this should be called a Package list when it is used to check the unpacking (as suggested by coleopterist).

At some point, it was decided that not all end users would understand the warehouse jargon and that plain English (What's in the box) would be more accessible.

Either is acceptable and the choice between them is one of personal preference.

I have seen the heading Did we leave anything out? on the parts list of a complex game. I assume that the manufacturers believed that was suited to their target audience.


Neither is “more English”; that is, both are used and both are correct. “Packing list” is more traditional, more formal, and (according to ngrams for packing list,what's in the box,What's in the box) more common than “What's in the box”. Moreover, most instances of the latter in books are straight questions not related to manifests.

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