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How to Measure a Tote Bag - Ultimate Guide

Robyn Wike |

Tote bags have become one of the most popular fashionable bags for everyday use. Its versatility helps them be a fit in every occasion and outfit! 

We get it. A lot of options may cause confusion when buying a tote bag. Especially when shopping online, it is hard to decide which bag will suit you and your needs the most. Even sometimes, the details of the texture, quality, or measurements on the websites might be tough to comprehend through a screen. Great news is that we created this ultimate guide for you on how to measure a tote bag. You may easily measure your ideal bag for any use by following the few steps and tips below.

Why Is It Important to Properly Measure a Tote Bag


Every user has their own occasion on why they need tote bags. Their daily rituals, special events, or promotion campaigns might motivate them to buy a tote bag. If they go to any site selling a tote bag, they would probably come across many options. Choosing the correct size will be one of the criteria. 

Imagine having a party organization such as a birthday celebration or a wedding. If your gifts won’t fit in the bag, what a nightmare would be once you receive them. Or if you buy a tote bag for your school supplies. It would be useless to carry around a bag that’s way too small for your laptop. Therefore having the measurements beforehand and comparing them to your needs should be a priority when shopping for bags.

How to Choose the Correct Size for You?

As we mentioned before, tote bags are a great fit in any place or time. To the beach, shopping, sports or school supplies, events, organizations, and even promotional purposes. So first, you should define why you need the tote bag. After that, you can think of the items you will be carrying with the bag. Such as your gym clothes, books, laptop, gifts, etc. Then you would have an approximate measurement for your bag. A tricky point in measuring would be that you should not only take width and height into consideration but also the depth, handle or strap length as well.

How to Measure a Tote Bag Width / Height

To understand how to measure a tote bag, first, you should determine the width and the height of the bag.  Suppose you are shopping online and trying to understand the bag's approximate size. In that case, you may use paper or a piece of fabric for your measurement. You can take the measurement easily from the front of the bag. By using a ruler or a tape measure, you can check the size from left to right or top to bottom, and vice versa. 

tote bag size chart

While measuring the height from top to bottom, you should have the measuring tape in the middle of the bag. This way, you will be able to avoid the bent or folded pieces and measure correctly. Also, keep in mind that the handles are not considered part of the height measurement.

How to Measure a Tote Bag Depth

A tote bag’s depth does not have a standard design in every bag. Therefore think about the items that will fit in the bag beforehand—then you may search for the ideal bag size. At the same time, measure the depth; just like before, you can use a tape measure. Place one end on the base corner, and draw the tape measure to the back from the side.

How to Measure a Tote Bag with Gusset

While shopping for a tote bag, you may see some options with a gusset. First of all, what is a gusset, and what is its purpose? A gusset is an extra piece of fabric on the sides or bottom that gives a bag more room to carry. Also, it provides additional strength to the bag as well. As you can guess, with extra fabric getting involved, it becomes a little tricky how to measure a tote bag. 

There are three common gusset types in tote bag designs: T, U and box gussets. To start with, the easy one-box gussets add a rectangular area to the side and bottom; therefore, you can simply use the steps above to measure the bag. Of course, keep in mind that the gusset part will seem like there is an extra height from the front of the bag when folded. U-type gussets, also known as two-seam gussets, are similar to box-shaped bags. So while measuring it, think of the bag filled with goodies and measure the volume with that vision.

Also called Single Seam Gusset types, some tote bags will have an upside-down T-looking gusset. This means the bottom will have depth, unlike the upper part of the tote. Therefore when measuring the depth of T-type gusset included bags, use the base to calculate the size.

How to Measure a Tote Bag for Printing

Reusable tote bags are a great marketing promotion when you think about it. While they are being used in everyday life, your logo can also travel with them! Printed bags are perfect for weddings, church events, organizations, festivals, and parties. So for any purpose, if you ever want to print on your tote bag, you should think about the sizing for legibility. Therefore noting these criteria when shopping for bags beforehand would be beneficial for you.

How to Measure the Length of a Tote Bag Handle / Strap

Most tote bags have straps so that you can wear them over the shoulder or crossbody. So when picking up a bag, you should include the strap or handle measurements into consideration. You can easily measure the strap by starting from one sewed strap to the other connection point. This data will be necessary for deciding if the bag is suitable for carrying big, tall, heavy items or carrying the bag over the shoulder. You can also measure the distance between two ends of the strap from the front to understand the anchor points of the bag.

How to Measure the Drop Length

When carrying your bag filled with goodies, it will change its form due to the fabric's elasticity and gravity. This change of structure will also affect the usage and wearability of the bag—which is called the drop length. On how to measure a tote bag, you may also check the drop length of the bag when it is worn over the shoulder or body.

To measure the drop length, you can simply hold the strap from the middle to up or hang the bag somewhere stable and measure the distance between the top point of the bag to the inside peak of the strap.

Most Popular Tote Bag Sizes

As mentioned before, tote bags are versatile fashion items, so there is absolutely no standard on what size a tote bag should be. However, according to the most selling and popular types of tote bags, 13” W x 15” H; 14” W x 14” H bags are the most popular ones in the market. They are great for filling them up with basic essentials, such as lipsticks, keys, wallets, etc. They will be delicate enough for an evening out.

There are also medium-sized tote bags that are suitable for everyday use, books, simple groceries, school supplies, etc. The most common dimensions are 16” W x 15” H x 5 “D measurements. They are great for casual outgoings. You can carry your books, journal, or even a simple jacket for transferring from day to night use. Also, the imprint area of these bags creates a space legible enough to draw attention to the artwork of the logo printed on them. Therefore these medium-sized totes are popular among promotional items, giveaway gifts, or organizations.

On the other hand, large tote bags are mostly around 22” W x 15” H x 8” D dimensions. With the oversized space, they are ready to meet your requirements. These sort of bags are excellent for picnics, gym, beach, pool, or overnight stays and your personal belongings. If you are a mom or dad with kids you follow everywhere, these sorts of bags will be your best friend in organizing their needs.

Most Common Handle / Strap Length of Tote Bags

While looking for a tote bag with handles or shoulder straps, you should decide how you would like to carry the bag. For example, the simple and delicate design for small bags is around 14”-18” in length with a 6”-8” drop. The short handles are suitable for wearing as handbags

The standard and most common straps that create an ease of use are around 20”-22” in length with a 9”-1” drop. This gives the bag enough size to be carried over the shoulder and easily reached inside.

And for the long straps for a crossbody, hanging off elbow or over the shoulder use is around 24”-26” in length with 12”-13” drop. These bags are perfect for fashionable purposes and for carrying light-weighted everyday belongings. Moreover, taking long supplements such as printed arts, posters, or groceries would be a great choice due to the long straps.