Jira issue types: A detailed guide

Jira issue types helps users identify, categorize and report on different kinds of work. In this guide, we'll explore what issue types are and how to create a custom one.

Jira issue types: A detailed guide

Jira Software is a universe of its own — full of tasks, subtasks, epics, bugs, and feature requests. One of the standout elements of this popular project management tool is 'issue types.' Jira issue types are tabs that help define, categorize, and organize various kinds of work. In this guide, we'll dive into these issue types and their hierarchy levels to help you maximize the software's potential.

But first, let's clarify what 'issues' in Jira mean.

What are the issues in Jira?

In Jira, teams rely on individual pieces of work, items, or tasks to track, manage, and deliver a project. These units of work could represent tickets, user stories, bugs, or tasks that serve as a medium for scheduling and reporting on work within the tool.

Further, you can add relevant information on these issues, attach a screenshot, write a detailed description, tag the assignee, set a priority level, and more. Due to its flexibility and extensibility to work with thousands of integrations, it has been adopted as a software management tool for over 65,000+ companies globally. Let us now dive deep into the standard issue types you might encounter in your projects.

What are Jira Issue types?

Jira issue types are the pre-defined templates that help you identify, differentiate, and categorize your work in and across the Jira suite. With these, you can sort your work, track the project’s progress, and even evaluate how fast your team has responded to the assigned work.

Each issue type is customizable to suit your specific needs. But before heading over to the default Jira issue types, you must brush up on some basics of project management tools and learn more about Jira work management and how it integrates into your system. Let’s now zoom into the issue types in detail.  

Understanding default Issue types

The default issue types in Jira are classified into story, bug, task, subtask, and epic. Let’s know more about the core issue types in detail:


A story, often termed a user story in Jira, is a type of issue that serves a specific requirement that needs to be developed. It is generally written from a user’s perspective. For example, ‘As a user, I want to be able to filter shoe types on an e-commerce website that fits in my budget.’ So, adding a new price filter option on the website becomes a story.


As the name suggests, a bug is a problem that prevents proper product functioning and impacts it adversely. Once you have identified a bug, add all the relevant details, including screenshots, descriptions, versions, etc., to create an issue. Moreover, you can categorize the bug from ‘backlog’ when working on it and ‘done’ when the issue is resolved. For example, if a particular CTA button on a webpage does not work when clicked, it becomes a bug.


A task represents actionable steps or to-dos that need to be done. It’s a part of a story and can be regarded as a more detailed work description. While a story expresses the end result, a task is more like a step in the process. It includes the estimated time to resolve the task, the reporter, the assignee, and more. Break down the work of a task into smaller, manageable units called subtasks. For example, testing a new feature becomes a task.


A subtask is an issue type that is broken down into smaller, individually manageable pieces of a task. They are extremely helpful when working with large projects with multiple tasks. In other words, to create a subtask, you must first select the parent task. For example, writing unit tests for a new feature becomes a subtask.


Finally, an epic is a parent issue that combines all of the stories, tasks, subtasks, and bugs. It is used to track and organize work that is related to a larger project or objective. For example, implementing a new payment structure for this e-commerce site becomes an epic.

What are the jira issue type hierarchy levels?

Jira Issue Type Hierarchy Levels (Source: Solidify)

Jira software breaks down its hierarchy into three levels, epic, story, and subtasks, to allow you to organize your work in the most structured and seamless manner.

  1. Epic
  2. Story
  3. Subtask

An epic occupies the topmost position in this hierarchy and is usually a bigger story divided into smaller, manageable pieces. Within an epic, you can have stories, a smaller unit, defining a larger goal. These stories can then be broken down into specific pieces called tasks. And finally, a subtask which is the smallest unit of work found within a task.

What are parent and child issues in jira types?

As the name suggests, parent and child are terms that outline a relationship between issues. In Jira software, these issues can be categorized using various types, including a ‘parent’ and a ‘child.’

  1. Parent issue: It is a more significant task having smaller, detailed subtasks or child issues linked to it.
  2. Child issue: It is an issue that is a subtask or a smaller piece of work compared to the parent one. It helps break down bigger, complex tasks to render a more granular view of the work.

Know that any issue type can be both a parent and a child issue, as their relationship isn't restricted to specific issue types. However, subtasks can be the only exception here, which can only be a child issue since there aren’t any issue types below it in the hierarchy.

Let’s break this down with the following hierarchy:

  • Epic
  • The story, Task, Bug
  • Subtask


  • An epic, being a parent issue, can have child issues such as stories, tasks, and bugs.
  • However, a task can have only subtasks, referred to as child issues.
  • And, subtasks can’t have any child issues.

How to create a new custom issue type?

A custom issue type can be created in a few easy steps. Before that, make sure that you have admin access.

  1. Head to the Jira menu and click on “Settings.”
  2. Under Settings, click "Issues" and then “Issue Types.”
  3. Name your issue type and provide an accurate description.
  4. Choose an avatar to represent your new issue type.
  5. Add extra settings, if applicable, such as issue type visibility to specific projects or users.
  6. Save your new issue type.
Creating issue type in Jira

Final thoughts

Having a firm grasp of the different issue types in Jira is crucial for managing and juggling different work items seamlessly. By utilizing and maximizing their potential to the fullest, teams can ensure that their work is super-organized and measured efficiently.

Jira is a highly versatile project management tool that can assist you in achieving that. Whether you are a project manager, a developer, or an engineering manager, this tool has everything to keep your project running smoothly.

Colored Box with Buttons

Ready to drive engineering success?