Learn how to use Epics in Jira Software

A guide on how to use and create epics in Jira Software

Max Rehkopf Max Rehkopf

Jira Epics Tutorial

In this tutorial, we'll explain what epics are in agile development. We'll also show you how to work with epics in Jira Software, to help you in your next big project. This tutorial will focus on epics in scrum projects, but many of these concepts can be applied to kanban projects, too.


10 minute read. Complete over 2 weeks or more



You are new to agile software development or Jira Software



You have created a Jira Software account, and a Jira Software project (Scrum or Kanban)

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When should I create an epic?

Consider creating an epic if you have a large user story that you want to split up into smaller chunks. You could also create an epic if you notice a pattern amongst several user stories you've created, and you want to bundle them into one group.

Step 1: Create a new epic in Jira Software

There are two ways to create an epic:

Create an epic from a new issue

  1. Click Ellipses button> Issue in the top-left corner.

  2. Select Epic for the issue type.

Select Epic for the issue type

Create an epic from the Epics Panel

  1. Navigate to the Backlog.
  2. Click on the epics panel.
  3. Hit Create epic.

When you create an epic, you'll need to enter the following details:

  • Epic name - A short identifier for your epic. This will be used as a label on issues that belong to this epic.

  • Epic summary - You'll see this whenever Jira displays the epic.

Step 2: Add and remove stories

When you've created an epic, you'll need to add stories to it.

What's the difference between epics and other issue types?

Stories, bugs, and tasks are used to describe one single piece of work. Epics are used to describe a group of related issues. Epics can also be a large user story that needs to be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Check out our guide on delivery vehicles for more info.

There are two ways to add a story to an epic:

From the issue create screen

  1. Click  Ellipses button > Issue in the top-left corner.
  2. Select any issue type other than Epic.
  3. Find the Epic Link field, and select your epic.
  4. Find the Epic Link field, and select your epic
  5. Fill in any other details you want, and hit Create.


From the Epics Panel

  1. Navigate to the Backlog.

  2. Open the Epics Panel.

  3. Hit Create issue in epic.

Hit Create issue in epic

To remove an issue from an epic

Navigate to either Backlog or Active sprints:

  • In the Backlog, drag the issue onto the Issues without epics section at the bottom of the Epics Panel; or

  • In either the Backlog or the Active sprints, click the relevant issue to display it on the right-hand side of the screen, then click the x in the epic name (e.g. "Apples" in Screenshot 1 below).

Step 3: Viewing your epics

You can see information relating to all your epics in the Backlog.

Epics panel, List of epics, View issues in epic
  1. Epics Panel: Go to the Backlog and open the Epics Panel to view and manage your epics.

  2. List of epics: The Epics Panel displays a list of all epics in your project.

  3. View issues in epic: Click an epic's name to view all the issues belonging to that epic, across all sprints.

You can also view an epic issue to see a list of the stories it contains:

You can also view an epic issue to see a list of the stories it contains

Step 4: Set up swimlanes for your epics on your board

During a sprint, you might find it useful to divide your board into swimlanes for each epic, to make the board visually clearer.

During a sprint, you might find it useful to divide your board into swimlanes for each epic, to make the board visually clearer

Here's how you can set this up in Jira Software:

  1. Navigate to the backlog (or active sprint).

  2. Select more (Ellipses button) > Board settings.

  3. Click on Swimlanes.

  4. Under Base swimlanes on, select Epics.

When you start a sprint, your board will show issues grouped under their respective epics.

Step 5: Monitor the progress of your epic

You may find it important to keep track of all incomplete issues attached to an epic. For example, if you have an epic that will span multiple sprints, you might find it useful to track the amount of work remaining over time so you can estimate when the epic will be completed.

In Jira Software, you can use the Epic Report to easily obtain this information.

Monitor the progress of your epic

Step 6: Complete your epic

To complete an epic:

  1. Navigate to the Backlog.
  2. Open the Epics Panel.

  3. Click the drop-down for your epic, and select Mark as Done.

Complete your epic
When should I mark an epic as done?

Mark your epic as done whenever all work for the epic is complete. To make this easier, we recommend coming up with a clear definition of done for your epic create it. Any stories linked to the epic don't have to be complete to mark an epic as done.

Want to learn more?

For more detailed information on working with sprints in Jira Software, check out our epics documentation.

Have questions? Ask the Atlassian Community