JIRA Sub-Task with Example (JIRA Create Sub-task)

Creating and working with sub-tasks and Merge Task in JIRA:

We came to know about JIRA Bug Tracking Tool in our previous tutorial.

We all know that Jira issue is a standard and standalone issue. But Jira facilitates breaking down of issues as well.

This can be achieved in multiple ways. It has a provision to copy the issues so that a user does not have to enter all the fields again to create a new similar issue. JIRA Training Series will give you a clear knowledge of the concept

This tutorial explains about Jira Sub-tasks, the creation of a Jira sub-task, converting an issue into a sub-task and vice versa, cloning (copying) an issue, correcting/moving an issue etc in detail.

JIRA SubTasks

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

Sub-Tasks in Jira

As we all know that a task/issue in Jira is the mentioned story/requirement which is worked upon.

In case the issue is too big and complex then the issue can be broken down into logical sub-issues known as ‘Sub-tasks’ in Jira. These smaller issues can be managed properly.

Each sub-task can be worked upon by a separate person, which in turn allows monitoring the progress of the main issue in a better way. Also, the person working on a subtask gets a better understanding of the area.

Once sub-tasks are created, the main issue is referred to as the parent issue. All the sub-issues of the parent issue are displayed as a summary on the same page/screen of the parent issue in the ‘Sub-Tasks’ section.

task and sub tasks summary display

=> It is important to note that a sub-task has all the same fields as a normal/standard issue. Sub-tasks have different issue types.

Types of sub-tasks

(List can vary from one organization to another)

  1. Sub-task
  2. Merge-To_Branch sub-task
  3. RCA

Procedure to Create a Sub-Task

#1) Open (search) the issue for which the sub-task or sub-tasks are to be created.

#2) Click on ‘…‘ button (referred to as ‘ellipsis’, available at top right-hand corner) so that the drop-down menu gets expanded.

#3) Select ‘Create Sub-task’ menu item. (refer the below image for ‘ellipsis’ and menu item).

create sub task

This will display ‘Create Subtask’ popup page (on top of the main issue page).

Note: A Jira administrator has to enable ‘Create sub-task’ submenu. Most of the organizations will have it. Also, the sub-task issue type has to be added to the issue type scheme of the project.

Note: Ellipsis (‘…’) button was known (named) as “More’ in the earlier versions of Jira and was placed alongside buttons like ‘Edit’ on the toolbar.

create sub- task page

On the above-shown page select ‘Sub-task’ in the issue type drop-down and then provide input for the mandatory fields and any additional fields and then click on the ‘Create’ button available at the bottom of the page.

Newly created sub-issue (usually referred to as sub-task) will be displayed in the ‘Sub-tasks’ section of the main/parent issue.

Note: Fields on the ‘Create Subtask’ popup page can be customized to show the widely used fields. This can be done by clicking the Configure Fields (with the wheel as an icon) available at the top right-hand corner of the page.

After clicking it will pop up a dialog where the fields which are not required can be unchecked and vice versa. The user can switch between the default fields and the customized page using “All’ and ‘Custom’ links.

Another type of sub-issue is called as ‘MergeToBranch-Subtask’, which is specifically used while the codes move/merge from project/product branch to another. For instance, when it is required to move from a development branch to a branch already in production then this sub-task is widely used.

Procedure to create merge type of sub-task is the same as that for Sub-task except that ‘MergeToBranch-Subtask’ option needs to be selected in the issue type drop-down. Once the merge-to-branch issue is created, ideally the Product Owner must approve the code move.

Note: Sub-tasks cannot be further divided into more sub-tasks. In case the need arises that a sub-task is to be broken further, then it is required, that the sub-task is first converted to a standard issue and then this issue can have sub-tasks.

Thus, an issue can be converted from a standard/parent (standalone) issue to a sub-task and vice versa. However, if an issue already has sub-tasks of its own, then Jira will not allow the user to convert the issue to sub-task.

In such a case, all the sub-tasks are to be converted first into standalone issues and then convert the parent issue to sub-task.

It is important to note that Sub-tasks cannot be made sub-tasks of another issue (i.e. cannot be moved directly from one issue to another). The procedure is to first convert sub-tasks to standard issues and then make them sub-tasks of another parenting issue.

Procedure to Convert a Standalone Issue into a Sub-task

#1) Open (search) the issue which needs to be converted.

#2) Click on the ‘on ‘…‘ button (referred to as ‘ellipsis’, available at top right-hand corner) so that the drop-down menu gets expanded.

#3) Select ‘Convert to sub-task’ menu item. –>This will open a page which will require 4 steps to be completed to finish the conversion.

convert issue to sub-task

#4) Step1: Enter the parent issue number in the ‘Select Parent Issue’ edit box.

=> Keep on typing the first few letters of the project (Example: ‘SAMP’), which will then pop up the list of issues (history) that are eligible for selection. Select the desired issue number. Select the type of sub-task and then click on the ‘Next >>’ button. This will open up ‘Step2’ page.

=> Alternatively click ‘select issue’ link/button (placed beside ‘Select Parent Issue’ edit box), which will popup ‘Issue Selector’ page, on which the user can select issues based on either of the two options/filters namely ‘Recent Issues’ or ‘From Filter’.

convert issue to subtask step2

#5) Step2 and Step3 are not required as seen from the above image. (also refer the Note section below).

#6) Step4. Clicking on ‘Next >>’ button will display the ‘Confirmation’ page which is step 4 of the conversion procedure. If all the input/selections look ok then click on the ‘Finish’ button. Once ‘Finish’ button is clicked the original standard issue will be converted to Sub-task of the given parent issue.

=> At any point of time the conversion procedure can be canceled using the ‘Cancel’ button.

convert issue to subtask step 4

Once a sub-task issue is created, the parent issue of which it is a Sub-task is displayed at the top left of the page.

Note: Following is true for both types of conversions namely from standard issue to Sub-task and from Sub-task to standalone issue.

=> If the current status of the issue being converted is not an expected status for the new issue type then, Select New Status page of Step2 is displayed, where the user must select a new status and then click ‘Next >>’ button.

=> If in case any additional fields are required to be mentioned then ‘Update Fields’ page of Step3 will be displayed, else ‘All fields will be updated automatically’ message will be displayed on the page.

Procedure to Convert a Sub-task to the Standalone Issue

#1) Open (search) the sub-task which is to be converted.

#2) Click on ‘on ‘…‘ button (referred to as ‘ellipsis’, available at the top right-hand corner) so that the drop-down menu gets expanded.

#3) Select ‘Convert to issue’ menu item. –>This will open a page (refer the below image) which will require 4 steps to be completed to finish the conversion.

convert subtask to Standalone issue step1

#4) Step 1: On ‘Select issue Type’ page of Step1, select a new issue type for the standalone/standard issue, and then click ‘Next >>’ button.

convert subtask to Standalone issue_step3

#5) Step2 and Step3 are not required as seen from the above image. (Also refer the Note section above).

#6) Step4: Clicking on ‘Next >>’ button will display the ‘Confirmation’ page which is step 4 of the conversion procedure. If all the input/selections look ok then click on the ‘Finish’ button. With this, Sub-task will be converted to the standalone/standard issue.

The newly created standard issue will be seen and the issue page will no longer display a parent issue number thus signifying that it is not a sub-task any more.

Move an Issue

Let us assume that while creating an issue, issue type chosen was incorrect and now user wants to rectify this. Jira provides this functionality to change the issue type.

Steps for moving an issue:

#1) Open (search) the issue which needs to be changed (moved).

#2) Click on the ‘on ‘…‘ button (referred to as ‘ellipsis’, available at top right-hand corner) so that the drop-down menu gets expanded.

#3) Select the ‘Move’ menu item. This will display ‘Move Issue’ page, which shows Step1 of the two-step procedure.

move issue step1

#4) Step1. Select a new project where the issue is to be moved (in case if the project is chosen while creating an issue was incorrect). If the project name is correct then no need to change it.

  • Select new issue type, from the drop-down in the ‘To’ column.
  • Click on the ‘Next’ button. This will take the user to the next step page.

move issue step 2 & 3

#5) Step2 and Step3 are not required as displayed in the above image.

This could vary depending upon the original issue type and new issue type, meaning in these cases the user will have to provide the necessary details. Now click on the ‘Next >>’ button to go to the next step.

move issue step 4

#6) Step 4: Is the page where user confirms the changed details and once satisfied clicks on ‘Move’ button.

  • This completes the procedure of moving an issue with the new details.

Clone an Issue

There are instances where a new issue to be created is similar (almost) to an existing issue. Instead of creating a new issue all the way, Jira provides a functionality called ‘clone’ to copy an existing issue.

Steps to clone an issue:

#1) Open (search) the issue which needs to be changed (moved).

#2) Click on the ‘on ‘…‘ button (referred to as ‘ellipsis’, available at the top right-hand corner) so that the drop-down menu gets expanded.

#3) Select the ‘Clone’ menu item. This will display the ‘Clone Issue’ page on top of the original issue.

  • In the mandatory summary field, enters a new summary for the new issue.
  • Select ‘Clone links’ checkbox, if the linked issues are also to be copied (as links) to the new issue.
  • Select ‘Clone sprint value’ checkbox, if the issue is to be added to the same Sprint as that of the original issue.

Select ‘Clone sprint value’ check box (2)

#4) After entering/selecting mandatory and additional details click on the Create’ button. This will create a new issue.


JIRA Sub-Task Examples

Example #1: A QA related example could be 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 typing task for “Test documentation” and have the following four subtasks 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).

Create Sub-Tasks in JIRA

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.

JIRA Creating a sub-task

#2) The “Create Subtask” dialogue with the parent issue number will come up. This is similar to the “create issue” dialogue, 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 a subtask. 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 create. 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 subtask 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 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-tasks 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 to track 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. 


Jira gives us all the possibilities to break down a big issue into smaller ones known as sub-tasks, using various procedures. Changing and copying an issue is possible in very few simple steps with JIRA.

Hope you would have gained much knowledge about the creation of Sub-tasks in Jira through this informative tutorial.

Our Upcoming tutorial will explain more about Scrum management in Jira!!

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13 thoughts on “JIRA Sub-Task with Example (JIRA Create Sub-task)”

  1. 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.

  2. @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.

  3. 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????

  4. Hi,
    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

  5. 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

  6. 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?

  7. Hi,

    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?

  8. Is there a way to trackdifferent types of hours on a given task/sub-task? If I have a workflow of ToDo->Development->Testing->Done…… Is there a way (add-on, perhaps?) that the developer could put the amount of time spent developing and the tester could put the amount of time testing such that we could track those different types of hours?

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