Labels

As your count of issues, merge requests, and epics grows in GitLab, it gets more challenging to keep track of those items. Especially as your organization grows from just a few people to hundreds or thousands. With labels, you can organize and tag your work, and track the work items you’re interested in.

Labels are a key part of issue boards. With labels you can:

  • Categorize epics, issues, and merge requests using colors and descriptive titles like bug, feature request, or docs.
  • Dynamically filter and manage epics, issues, and merge requests.
  • Search lists of issues, merge requests, and epics, as well as issue boards.

Types of labels

You can use two types of labels in GitLab:

  • Project labels can be assigned to issues and merge requests in that project only.
  • Group labels can be assigned to issues, merge requests, and epics in any project in the selected group or its subgroups.

Assign and unassign labels

Unassigning labels with the X button introduced in GitLab 13.5.

You can assign labels to any issue, merge request, or epic.

To assign or unassign a label:

  1. In the Labels section of the sidebar, select Edit.
  2. In the Assign labels list, search for labels by typing their names. You can search repeatedly to add more labels. The selected labels are marked with a checkmark.
  3. Select the labels you want to assign or unassign.
  4. To apply your changes to labels, select X next to Assign labels or select any area outside the label section.

Alternatively, to unassign a label, select the X on the label you want to unassign.

You can also assign and unassign labels with quick actions:

  • Assign labels with /label.
  • Remove labels with /unlabel.
  • Remove all labels and assign new ones with /relabel.

View available labels

View project labels

Introduced in GitLab 13.5: the label list in a project also shows all inherited labels.

To view the project’s labels:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Project information > Labels.

Or:

  1. View an issue or merge request.
  2. On the right sidebar, in the Labels section, select Edit.
  3. Select Manage project labels.

The list of labels includes both the labels created in the project and all labels created in the project’s ancestor groups. For each label, you can see the project or group path where it was created.

View group labels

To view the group’s labels:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Group information > Labels.

Or:

  1. View an epic.
  2. On the right sidebar, in the Labels section, select Edit.
  3. Select Manage group labels.

The list includes all labels created only in the group. It does not list any labels created in the group’s projects.

Create a label

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the project or group.

Create a project label

To create a project label:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Project information > Labels.
  3. Select New label.
  4. In the Title field, enter a short, descriptive name for the label. You can also use this field to create scoped, mutually exclusive labels.
  5. Optional. In the Description field, enter additional information about how and when to use this label.
  6. Optional. Select a color by selecting from the available colors, or enter a hex color value for a specific color in the Background color field.
  7. Select Create label.

Create a project label from an issue or merge request

You can also create a new project label from an issue or merge request. Labels you create this way belong to the same project as the issue or merge request.

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the project.

To do so:

  1. View an issue or merge request.
  2. On the right sidebar, in the Labels section, select Edit.
  3. Select Create project label.
  4. Fill in the name field. You can’t specify a description if creating a label this way. You can add a description later by editing the label.
  5. Select a color by selecting from the available colors, or enter a hex color value for a specific color.
  6. Select Create.

Create a group label

To create a group label:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Group information > Labels.
  3. Select New label.
  4. In the Title field, enter a short, descriptive name for the label. You can also use this field to create scoped, mutually exclusive labels.
  5. Optional. In the Description field, enter additional information about how and when to use this label.
  6. Optional. Select a color by selecting from the available colors, or enter a hex color value for a specific color in the Background color field.
  7. Select Create label.

Create a group label from an epic

You can also create a new group label from an epic. Labels you create this way belong to the same group as the epic.

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the group.

To do so:

  1. View an epic.
  2. On the right sidebar, in the Labels section, select Edit.
  3. Select Create group label.
  4. Fill in the name field. You can’t specify a description if creating a label this way. You can add a description later by editing the label.
  5. Select a color by selecting from the available colors,enter input a hex color value for a specific color.
  6. Select Create.

Edit a label

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the project or group.

Edit a project label

To edit a project label:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Project information > Labels.
  3. Next to the label you want to edit, select Edit ().

Edit a group label

To edit a group label:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Group information > Labels.
  3. Next to the label you want to edit, select Edit ().

Delete a label

caution
If you delete a label, it is permanently deleted. All references to the label are removed from the system and you cannot undo the deletion.

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the project.

Delete a project label

To delete a project label:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Project information > Labels.
  3. Either:

    • Next to the Subscribe button, select ().
    • Next to the label you want to edit, select Edit ().
  4. Select Delete.

Delete a group label

To delete a group label:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Group information > Labels.
  3. Either:

    • Next to the Subscribe button, select ().
    • Next to the label you want to edit, select Edit ().
  4. Select Delete.

Promote a project label to a group label

Introduced in GitLab 13.6: promoting a project label keeps that label’s ID and changes it into a group label. Previously, promoting a project label created a new group label with a new ID and deleted the old label.

You might want to make a project label available for other projects in the same group. Then, you can promote the label to a group label.

If other projects in the same group have a label with the same title, they are all merged with the new group label. If a group label with the same title exists, it is also merged.

caution
Promoting a label is a permanent action and cannot be reversed.

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the project.
  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the project’s parent group.

To promote a project label to a group label:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Project information > Labels.
  3. Next to the Subscribe button, select the three dots () and select Promote to group label.

All issues, merge requests, issue board lists, issue board filters, and label subscriptions with the old labels are assigned to the new group label.

The new group label has the same ID as the previous project label.

Promote a subgroup label to the parent group

It’s not possible to directly promote a group label to the parent group. To achieve this, use the following workaround.

Prerequisites:

  • There must be a group that contains subgroups (“parent group”).
  • There must be a subgroup in the parent group, that has a label you want to promote.
  • You must have at least the Reporter role for both groups.

To “promote” the label to the parent group:

  1. In the parent group, create a label with the same name as the original one. We recommend making it a different color so you don’t mistake the two while you’re doing this.
  2. In the subgroup, view its labels. You should see the two labels and where they come from:

    parent group and subgroup labels in the subgroup's label list

  3. Next to the subgroup label (the old one), select Issues, Merge requests, or Epics.
  4. Add the new label to issues, merge requests, and epics that have the old label. To do it faster, use bulk editing.
  5. In the subgroup or the parent group, delete the label that belongs to the lower-level group.

You should now have a label in the parent group that is named the same as the old one, and added to the same issues, MRs, and epics.

Generate default project labels

If a project or its parent group has no labels, you can generate a default set of project labels from the label list page.

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the project.
  • The project must have no labels present.

To add the default labels to the project:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Project information > Labels.
  3. Select Generate a default set of labels.

The following labels are created:

  • bug
  • confirmed
  • critical
  • discussion
  • documentation
  • enhancement
  • suggestion
  • support

Scoped labels

Teams can use scoped labels to annotate issues, merge requests, and epics with mutually exclusive labels. By preventing certain labels from being used together, you can create more complex workflows.

Scoped labels

A scoped label uses a double-colon (::) syntax in its title, for example: workflow::in-review.

An issue, merge request, or epic cannot have two scoped labels, of the form key::value, with the same key. If you add a new label with the same key but a different value, the previous key label is replaced with the new label.

For a video overview, see Scoped Labels Speed Run.

Filter by scoped labels

Introduced in GitLab 14.4.

To filter issue, merge request, or epic lists by a given scope, enter <scope>::* in the searched label name.

For example, filtering by the platform::* label returns issues that have platform::iOS, platform::Android, or platform::Linux labels.

note
Filtering by scoped labels not available on the issues or merge requests dashboard pages.

Scoped labels examples

Example 1. Updating issue priority:

  1. You decide that an issue is of low priority, and assign it the priority::low label.
  2. After more review, you realize the issue’s priority is higher increased, and you assign it the priority::high label.
  3. Because an issue shouldn’t have two priority labels at the same time, GitLab removes the priority::low label.

Example 2. You want a custom field in issues to track the operating system platform that your features target, where each issue should only target one platform.

You create three labels:

  • platform::iOS
  • platform::Android
  • platform::Linux

If you assign any of these labels to an issue automatically removes any other existing label that starts with platform::.

Example 3. You can use scoped labels to represent the workflow states of your teams.

Suppose you have the following labels:

  • workflow::development
  • workflow::review
  • workflow::deployed

If an issue already has the label workflow::development and a developer wants to show that the issue is now under review, they assign the workflow::review, and the workflow::development label is removed.

The same happens when you move issues across label lists in an issue board. With scoped labels, team members not working in an issue board can also advance workflow states consistently in issues themselves.

For a video explanation, see:

Nested scopes

You can create a label with a nested scope by using multiple double colons :: when creating it. In this case, everything before the last :: is the scope.

For example, if your project has these labels:

  • workflow::backend::review
  • workflow::backend::development
  • workflow::frontend::review

An issue can’t have both workflow::backend::review and workflow::backend::development labels at the same time, because they both share the same scope: workflow::backend.

On the other hand, an issue can have both workflow::backend::review and workflow::frontend::review labels at the same time, because they both have different scopes: workflow::frontend and workflow::backend.

Receive notifications when a label is used

You can subscribe to a label to receive notifications whenever the label is assigned to an issue, merge request, or epic.

To subscribe to a label:

  1. View the label list page.
  2. To the right of any label, select Subscribe.
  3. Optional. If you are subscribing to a group label from a project, select either:
    • Subscribe at project level to be notified about events in this project.
    • Subscribe at group level: to be notified about events in the whole group.

Set label priority

Labels can have relative priorities, which are used when you sort issue and merge request lists by label priority and priority.

When prioritizing labels, you must do it from a project. It’s not possible to do it from the group label list.

note
Priority sorting is based on the highest priority label only. This discussion considers changing this.

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Reporter role for the project.

To prioritize a label:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Project information > Labels.
  3. Next to a label you want to prioritize, select the star ().

Labels prioritized

This label now appears at the top of the label list, under Prioritized Labels.

To change the relative priority of these labels, drag them up and down the list. The labels higher in the list get higher priority.

Drag to change label priority

To learn what happens when you sort by priority or label priority, see Sorting and ordering issue lists.

Real-time changes to labels

Introduced in GitLab 14.10 with a feature flag named realtime_labels, disabled by default.

On self-managed GitLab, by default this feature is not available. To make it available, ask an administrator to enable the feature flag named realtime_labels. On GitLab.com, this feature is unavailable.

Changed labels are immediately visible to other users, without refreshing the page, on the following:

  • Epics
  • Incidents
  • Issues
  • Merge requests

Troubleshooting

Some label titles end with _duplicate<number>

In specific circumstances it was possible to create labels with duplicate titles in the same namespace.

To resolve the duplication, in GitLab 13.2 and later, some duplicate labels have _duplicate<number> appended to their titles.

You can safely change these labels’ titles if you prefer. For details of the original problem, see issue 30390.