Using your Scrum backlog

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The backlog of a Scrum board shows the issues for your project grouped into a backlog and sprints. In the Scrum backlog, you can create and update issues, drag and drop issues to rank them, or assign them to sprints, epics, or versions, manage epics, and more. You'd typically use the Scrum backlog when building a backlog of issues, planning a new version, and planning a sprint.

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Before you begin

Different functionalities in the Scrum backlog require different permissions. For example, to start a sprint, you need to be a project administrator for all projects that match the board's filter. See Permissions overview for more information.

About the Scrum backlog

An issue will only be visible in the Scrum backlog if:

  • the issue isn't a subtask,
  • the issue matches the board's saved filter, 
  • the issue's status maps to one of the board's columns (but not the Done column), and
  • there's at least a status being mapped to the right-most column. 
    For example, if you have the columns To Do, In Progress, and Done, ensure that you have a status mapped to In Progress at least. If you map all the statuses to the first (To Do) column, you won't see any issues in the Scrum backlog.

Accessing the Scrum backlog

Go to the Backlog of your Scrum project.

 Here's an example of a Scrum backlog with an issue selected:


tip/resting Created with Sketch.

We're rolling out a new issue view, with a consistent appearance across Jira and one screen to view and edit. It looks a little different and some procedures have changed slightly, so take a look at our info page to see what's new and get the latest updates. To turn the new issue view on or off in Jira Software projects for now, head to Your profile and settings () > Personal settings and toggle the switch for the New Jira issue view.

What can I do in the Scrum backlog?

Task Instructions
Add issues to the backlog

Click the  icon in the global sidebar.


Fill in the issue details in the Create issue dialog, then click Create. The issue will be added to the backlog under the currently selected issue, or at the top of the backlog if no issue is selected.

tip/resting Created with Sketch.
  • Check the Create another checkbox in the Create issue dialog to keep it open if you're creating multiple issues.
  • Quickly create issues using the inline issue create feature. Just click + Create issue. Learn more.
Prioritize the backlog

Drag and drop an issue to rank it. You can also right-click the issue to open a menu that allows you to send it to the top or the bottom of the backlog.

View and edit an issue's details

Click an issue on the board to view the issue detail view and edit issue details.

To open the issue in a separate tab or window, right-click on the issue key.

To view the details of an epic, click the epic lozenge on the issue itself.

Estimate stories

Use the 'J' and 'K' keys to move through issues in the backlog and show the details on the right-hand side of the screen. Use the 'E' key to edit an issue, then update estimates or story points as you go.

By default, the Story Points field is only available to issues of type 'story' or 'epic'. See Configuring estimation and tracking for details.

Identify the workload for users

The avatars for users who have work assigned to them in a sprint are shown at the top of a sprint. Click ••• (next to avatars) to view the sprint workload for assignees.

Create subtasks

Click an issue and click .

Subtasks are useful for breaking a story down into implementable chunks.

Transition an issue

Drag and drop an issue from the Backlog section to the relevant sprint section, to move the issue from the backlog to the relevant sprint.

When transitioning multiple issues...

Depending on the following conditions, you can press the Shift or Ctrl key to select and transition multiple issues from the backlog to the next status in your project's workflow:

Split an issue

Right-click an issue and select Split issue. You can split an issue in the Backlog or sprint sections, including any future sprints and any active sprint.

Splitting an issue is useful when an issue is so big that it's better to divide it into two or more issues to make work more manageable.

What happens when I split an issue?
  • If you split an issue in the Scrum backlog, the new issue will be sent to the Backlog section.
  • If you split an issue in one of the sprints (future or active), you can choose to send the new issue to either the backlog, or a future or active sprint.
What happens to the issue details?
  • The new issue will be of the same issue type as the original issue. For example, if you split a story into two or more issues, the new issues will also be stories.
  • The new issue will have most of the same details stored in the original issue, including priority, component, and label.
  • The issue details that won't be copied over include work log, comments, issue history, and issue links, though the original issue will be linked to the new issue.
  • The new issue will have the summary that you entered upon splitting the issue.
  • If the original issue has estimates, you'll be able to enter estimates for the new issues as well. You can also update the estimate of the original issue as necessary.
  • The issue status also returns to the first step of the corresponding workflow, and the resolutions are cleared.
Flag an issue

Select an issue and select ••• > Add flag.

Delete an issue

Select an issue and select ••• > Delete.

Find issues

Create your own Quick Filters to view only the issues you want. See Configuring Quick Filters for details.

Search for an issue by name, code, or assignee.

Organize stories into epics

Click EPICS (aligned vertically, left side of the board) to show the 'EPICS' panel. You can create epics, drag and drop issues into epics, and filter by epics via this panel.

An epic is essentially a large user story, used for grouping smaller stories. For example, you may have a 'Performance' theme for your release, which you could capture as an epic.

Plan versions

Click VERSIONS (aligned vertically, left side of the board) to show the 'VERSIONS' panel. You can create and edit versions, assign issues to versions via drag-and-drop, and filter by versions via this panel.

Note, you need to have at least one version in your project for this panel to display.

Plan sprints

Click Create sprint, then drag and drop issues into your new sprint. You can also drag and drop the horizontal divider to add or remove multiple issues. The sprint footer will display the number of issues and total estimated work.

When you're happy with the issues for the sprint, click Start sprint, and the stories will move into the Active sprints.

While a sprint is active in the Active sprints, you can still plan subsequent sprints in the backlog, but you won't be able to start them until the active sprint is completed. (You can, however, drag and drop an issue in the backlog onto the active sprint.)


tip/resting Created with Sketch.

The new issue view lets you choose a two-column layout if you have enough screen real estate. Drag the divider and give your issue details more space.

Next steps

 Need help? If you can't find the answer you need in our documentation, we have other resources available to help you. See Getting help.

Last modified on Aug 20, 2018

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