Different Jira Issue Types


What is the difference between an Epic, Story, Task, and other issue types?  Which Issue Types are standard and which are custom?  Which issues types are added by Jira Service Desk?


An Issue Type is a way issues are classified in a Jira project.  There are standard types that come with Jira and additional custom types.

Standard Issue Types

Jira Software comes with five standard issue types so issues can have different fields, different workflows, or both, within the same Jira project. For example, a Bug issue type might have defect-specific fields like “Steps to Reproduce” and “Expected Result.”  Those two fields don’t belong on a screen for the Task issue type however.

Tip:  I recommend every Jira project start off with Epic, Task, and Sub-task, regardless of the type of work tracked.  Add additional standard and custom types when there’s a measurable business need.

Issue Type
Atlassian’s Definition
Rachel’s Notes
Example Issue Summary (Title)
Task Task that needs to be done This is your generic “catch all” type.  Use it for any type of work not represented by the other available types.Tip:  Creating specifically named tasks (Ex: Security Task, Marketing Task, etc.) is not recommended. Bake a cake
Sub-task Smaller task within a larger piece of work The smallest piece of work required to complete a larger piece of work.  Often used to assign parts of a larger task to different team members. Mix cake ingredients
Epic Large piece of work that encompasses many issues A term from “Agile” methodology but useful to any type of team, regardless of methodology.Tip:  Link other issues to the Epic they support. Make deserts for bake sale
Story Functionality request expressed from the perspective of the user AKA: “User Story” or other form of development request.  Often used by software development teams to encompass requirements, features, or enhancements.  Sometimes written in the format:  As a <type of user>, I want <some goal> so that <some reason>. As a bake sale attendee, I would like to eat brownies because I’m allergic to cakeOR

Make brownies for bake sale

Bug Problem that impairs product or service functionality Often used to track problems, errors, omissions, defects, or “things to fix”. Cake is burnt

Additionally, Jira Service Desk adds four more standard types for support projects.

Issue Type
Atlassian’s Definition
Example Issue Summary (Title)
Incident System outage or incident The kitchen caught fire yesterday
Service request General request from a user for a product or service Fix microwave damaged during kitchen fire
Change Rollout of new technologies or solutions Change the gas stove to an electric hot plate
Problem Track underlying causes of incidents The electric hot plate doesn’t get hot enoughOR

Train users on gas stove safety

Custom Issue Types

You may have additional custom types in your project’s selection list.  These were either added by Jira administrators, by additional Jira functions, or by third party apps and add-ons.

For example, a Legal Jira project may have custom issue types like:  Agreement or Contract.  A Marketing Jira project may have:  Campaign, Creative, or Design.  A few custom issue types are expected, but Jira administrators should keep the list of choices as short as possible.

See also:  Common Jira Terms and Concepts

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Author: Rachel Wright

Rachel Wright is an entrepreneur, Certified Jira Administrator, and author of the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook. She started using Jira in 2011, became a Jira administrator in 2013, and was certified in 2016. She is the owner and founder of Industry Templates, LLC, which helps companies grow, get organized, and develop their processes.

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