Creating and Working with Sub-tasks (Divisions of a Parent Issue) in JIRA – Tutorial #3

Having created an issue successfully in the last JIRA tutorial we are on our way to master yet another important topic today – Creating and working with sub-tasks in JIRA.

A sub-task is nothing but a division of a parent issue (task) into chunks of work that can be assigned and tracked individually.

Example 1: A QA related example could be of the task of Test documentation. Test documentation by itself is an activity that might take a week to finish.  Say, it involves the following aspects: Test plan documentation which takes 2 days. Test case documentation – 2 days, Test plan review – ½ day and Test case review – 1 day.  Also assume that there are 2 resources.

In this case we can create a JIRA issue of the type task for “Test documentation” and have the following four sub tasks under it:

  1. Test plan documentation – assigned to resource 1
  2. Test case documentation – assigned to resource 2
  3. Test plan review- assigned to resource 2
  4. Test case review- assigned to resource 1

By doing so, it is easier to have a better insight into the progress task wise and resource wise by breaking a sizeable parent task into sub-tasks.

Note: It should not be confused that an issue type of “Task” only contains “sub-tasks”. An issue of any type can have sub-tasks.

Example 2: An example related to bug could be – if a bug is encountered and needs a code change to fix it, the developer can use a sub-task to track this code-fix that needs to take place. Here, the code-fix (of type sub-task) becomes a sub-task under the bug found (of type Bug).

You can create sub-tasks by following one of the two methods:

  1. Create a sub-task to an issue, or
  2. Convert an issue to a sub-task and choose a parent

We will see both the ways below.

Method 1: Creating a sub-task under a parent issue

When a parent issue is already created the following steps can be followed to create a sub-task under it:

1) Open the issue. Go to “More” drop down in option on the top. Choose the “Create sub-task” option from the list.

(click on any image to enlarge)

JIRA Creating a sub-task

2) The “Create Subtask” dialog with the parent issue number will come up. This is similar to the “create issue” dialog, except that:

  • Project: this field does not exist, because the sub-task will have to under the project that the parent is created.
  • Issue type- auto populated as sub task. The drop down also has a “Technical Task” as an alternative. In case of our example 2, marking it is a Technical task will be more appropriate.

JIRA Creating a sub-task 1

3) Enter the information as desired and click on “Create” to create the sub-task. Once created, the link to the sub-task will appear in the “Sub-tasks” section of the parent issue as shown below:

JIRA Creating a sub-task 2

Note:  You can choose to add a new sub-task by clicking on the “+” sign in the sub-tasks section shown above.

4) Click on the link of the sub-task that you want to created. The details will be displayed as below.

JIRA Creating a sub-task 3

Method 2: Converting an issue into a sub-task

1) Open a created issue. Go to “More” drop down list and choose “Convert to Sub-task” option. The following screen gets displayed.
– Type in the issue ID or you can search it by using the link provided.
– As the message on the screen specifies:  only non-sub-task type issues already existing under the same project can be chosen.
– Choose the sub-task type as either Sub-task or technical task.
– Click Next.

JIRA Converting issues into sub task

2) Continue with steps 2 and 3 by choosing “Next”

3) Step 4 will show you the conversion summary. Choose Finish to convert an issue to a sub-task.

JIRA Converting issues into sub task 1

4) This issue will now be displayed under the “Sub-tasks” section of the parent section.

Some important points to note:

1) You can have as many sub-tasks as needed under an issue.

2) You cannot have sub-tasks to a sub-task.

3) Once you create a sub-task under a parent, the parent can no longer be converted into a sub-task.

4) A sub- task can however be converted into a parent issue. To do so, go to “More->Convert to Issue” option.  The following screen comes up. This process is similar to the method 2 of issue creation. Choose the new issue type and follow through all the steps to convert the sub-task into an issue.

Jira Tutorial important points

5) For an issue with sub-tasks the “Time tracking” portion will display the consolidated time of the parent + the sub-tasks.

For example, if the Parent issue’s Original Estimate field was chosen as 5 hours and the sub-task’s was set to 3 hours during the creation. The time tracking section of the Parent issue will display the ‘Estimated time’ as a sum of both parent and sub-task. For our example, it will display 8 hours (5+3).The same is true with the “Remaining Time” field too. There is an option to just display the parent’s time tracking information not considering the sub-tasks. You can do so by un-checking the “Include sub-tasks” checkbox in this section.

Jira Tutorial important points 1

6) In the sub-tasks section you can choose to display all the sub-tasks or just the ones that are open by clicking on the down-arrow next to “+” sign.

Jira Tutorial important points 2

7) You can work on your sub-task without having to navigate away from the parent issue. The activities you can perform are listed when the “Actions” option corresponding to each sub-task is clicked on. You can directly choose what you would like to do from the list that comes up.

Jira Tutorial important points 3

This sums up all there is to know about sub-tasks in JIRA. In the next article we will see cloning, editing, emailing issue etc.

You can check all tutorials in this series here: Atlassian JIRA Tutorials.

As always, please let us know your feedback and share your experiences if you have been using JIRA through your comments.

Recommended reading


#1 Naveen M

Cool. Didn’t know that jira is so powerful to track details to this level. This feature looks useful to divide defects with lot of work.



#3 Pravin

if i create issues, so how can i send this issues to developers, bcoz i send JIRA link but not open issues.
Plz help me.

#4 Swati Seela

@Pravin: You can email the link to them explicitly. How to do that will be explained in the next article which is going to come out in a day or two.

#5 Shuza

To Dear/ i have done software testing course, now i want to use “jira” for bug reporting, Please explain me – How i will learn it????

#6 Anonymous

Thank You so much for such a great tutorial.

#7 Kannan Manoharan

I’ve got a good idea about creating tasks in JIRA. Thank you.

#8 mohit

Can u please explain that why in the ” time tracking’ section are we having the consolidated time
though the parent task is divided into its subtasks?
eg. if i have planned an issue with 5 days and i am broking down into two subtasks, then they should be having the time stamp as a total of 5 days i guess.
Please elaborate

#9 Gaurav Khurana

Good to know so many features, though i am using it for many days but did not knew many feature which are being discussed here ,, thanks

#10 Deepali

I am trying to figure where to put in the estimate for a subtask, I don’t see the estimate field on my subtask window, could you please help?

#11 Sreethu


If I convert a sub task to an issue, what will happen to its parent issue? Will it still be considered as a subtask under its parent issue?

#12 Josh

I use this add-on to make my life easier with subtasks:

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