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How can I best document acceptance criteria for user stories?

I'm going to use JIRA/Greenhopper OnDemand on my Scrum agile project for story management and scheduling into sprints. What's the best place to put acceptance criteria? Should they just go in with the Description body, or should I create a new field?

6 answers

1 accepted

7 votes
Answer accepted

I've just added them into the Description field under an Acceptance Criteria heading... not beautiful, but simple. Keeps all the detail for the developers together.

Hi John,

How did you add acceptance criteria in the Jira board, I'm new to Jira and was given admin access to it.

Hi, John is just saying that he put the Acceptace Criteria within the Description. Adding a header that says "Acceptance Criteria" within the Description field helps, visually speaking.

Like likes this

We use an extra field "Acceptance criteria" because the description field is for understanding the user story.

The criteria geht the prefix (-) for not fullfilled and (/) for fullfilled. So we can visually check the progress of a story very easily.

When there are sub tasks, the sub tasks get the acceptance criteria and the user stories acceptance criteria are a brief summary of the total acceptance criteria divided in scections per sub task. When a sub task itself is an acceptance criterion this works well, too.

This way has stood the test of time in the last years.


Any plugin or setup in Jira will automatically highlight Given, When, Then tags a inside Acceptance criteria field?


@Prabhu, not exactly what you need but you might take a look at Issue Checklist Free that can help with tracking Acceptance Criteria.

Ex: Product Owner write acceptance criteria as follows in Jira for ATDD


Given User is on login screen

When Click on Submit with Valid Credentials

Then User should be login successfully


Now Tags are not getting highlighted and we were manually doing this, Is there any way to highlight tags automatically as like below.


Given User is on login screen

When Click on Submit with Valid Credentials

Then User should be login successfully

Like Martz likes this


Just embed your given-when-then block into the following code block

Feature: Production Tests
As a PO,
I want to highlight my syntax.

Scenario: Highlight given when then
Given a user story editied in jira
When I am ready
Then the syntax is highlighted


We have done two things. The DONE criteria is actually mapped to a set of fields in Jira so that developers need not go anywhere else to get reminded about the stuff they need to finish for any Story. Also an additional transistion is added to 'Under Progress' state, which opens up a customized screen for the DONE criteria stuff. This transistion does not change the status, it goes back to 'Under Development' itself. So once all the DONE criteria is met, it is ready for a closure. Also this makes the status transparent to people.

Additionally a more descriptive explaination of each criteria is put down in Confluence and under each of the custom field created in Jira, the description has a link to this page in Confluence for each field.

What if your subtasks under the story were the acceptance criteria? That my work well also (I may try it out)....

Just for future reference, there is a JIRA add-on called Checklist that allows a team to track their acceptance criteria in a checkbox form. It also offers a validator that prevent issue transitions until the criteria are validated.

Yet another paid plug-in that should be included with JIRA Agile.

Like # people like this

This is the best option I have come across. You can either use the plugin or set it up yourself. Check the below page and it goes in depth about how to do this effectively.

Like K W likes this

Uggghh!  Yet another paid add-on??!! As a 10-year user of TFS it's obvious Acceptance Criteria is a critical concept.  TFS has it as a separate tab for each user story, so its clearly delineated from the Description.  Everybody goes to a single place to document, review and update Acceptance Criteria.  Having them buried in Jira as comments within everything else is a recipe for disaster (and missed requirements). 

Like # people like this

Agree. as a product manager my view is that acceptance criteria is a crucial item that should be included with every user story. Currently I am using a messy workaround using custom field. should be part of the core product and not yet another paid plug-in

Like Jenelle Kemp likes this

There is a free checklist app available for Jira Cloud that can play the role of an acceptance criteria tracker: Issue Checklist Free

Like # people like this

As a suggestion to this question, acceptence criterias should not be that difficult to use. Normally as Scrum Master , my expectation in story detail page is -

1- Explanation of the story.

2- A list where i can add acceptence criterias by just clicking a plus icon.

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