How To Write a Bug Report Effectively in 10 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An effective bug report can serve as a useful tool during the entire product development life cycle. When you're able to communicate fully and explain the error from start to finish, it also provides a clearer foundation for fixing it faster and restoring the app to its intended purpose. In this article, we discuss what a bug report is, why it's important and how to write a bug report, with tips and examples to help fix any future bugs swiftly.

What is a bug report?

A bug report is a document that software testers create that shows issues in the code. This may include an application that keeps crashing, a website that's failing to load or an action that's not performing as expected. A bug report tells the developers exactly what is wrong in as much detail as possible. The developer can then use the bug report to fix the issue and then send the product for testing again.

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Importance of effective bug reporting

An effective bug report is key to getting resolving a coding issue and preventing it from happening again. Filling in a well-written and in-depth bug report that provides clear instructions and proof of the issue increases communication and collaboration between testers and developers. It helps the developer to visualize, identify and fix a problem easily. An effective bug report helps document the process and reduces the chances of making the same errors in the future.

Related: How To Become a Program Tester

How to write a bug report

While different bug reports may vary depending on the software you're testing, there are nine key elements to include in a coherent bug report that's useful for your developers:

1. Use a clear title

It's important that you include a short, clear title that summarizes the content using as much detail in as few words as possible. Your developer should be able to scan the title and know what the report is about. The title should include the category and location of the bug, such as "UI" or "Cart," and the error itself. A good example would be "Medium: Cart not updating - new items do not appear in the shopping cart.''

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2. Write a clear, concise description

This is where you can run through a brief summary of what the bug is, where you found it and how, why and when it occurred. This section includes more detail than the title, such as the frequency of the bug and the list of actions that cause it.

An example would be "On [date] I tried adding [item] to my cart using [browser] and [operating system.] The new item doesn't reflect in the cart after clicking add on [website URL.]"

Related: How To Become a Software Tester (and Their Primary Duties)

3. Assign a priority

The developer needs to know how serious the issue is so they can prioritize their workload. The priority level tells the developer how serious the issue is. Developers label bugs in one of the following categories:

  • Critical, blocker or high: A bug considered critical is one that's preventing an app from working as it should. The error may include loss of data, corrupted files or the software completely crashes, making it unusable.

  • Medium: The bug is impacting the user experience, but the user can still use the software without too much inconvenience.

  • Low: Any other minimal impact issues that negatively impact the user experience, such as typos, structuring issues or missing icons.

4. Include details about the environment

Software can behave differently in different situations, such as on different operating systems. Include all the details of the setup you were using when you found the bug. This can include:

  • Device informatio**n:** This section lists the type of hardware, model number and manufacturer details.

  • The browser and operating system:Include the version number of the operating system that displays the bug.

  • Account details**:** Include your account information and your login details.

  • Network connectivity**:** Mention whether you noticed the bug appearing while connected to Wi-Fi, Ethernet or mobile data.

  • Application version**:** List the version number of the app you're testing.

  • Your screen orientation**:** Include the zoom level and pixel ratio.

  • Frequency**:** Mention the number of times you were able to reproduce the bug and the number of attempts to reproduce the error.

  • Source URL: Include the URL of the error page to help the developer spot the issue quickly.

5. Log the steps taken to reproduce the bug

Write down all of the steps your developer can run through to reproduce the bug for themselves. Ensure these steps are short and simple. Remember, detail is helpful, so include anything you feel is important.

Example:

  1. Search for a product on the app

  2. Select product and open product page

  3. Select add to cart

  4. Navigate to cart (item not appearing)

6. Highlight the expected result

This is the result you were expecting to happen when performing a specific task. It's helpful if you can provide more in-depth knowledge and reasoning in this section because it gives the developer as much information as possible to establish what could be causing the error. A helpful example would be: "Item should show in cart after clicking add to basket."

7. Detail the actual result

Describe the result you received when the error occurred. You could note that the application crashes, a loading symbol appears or an error message is displayed. An example would be: "Item did not reflect in the cart across multiple platforms and operating systems."

8. Include an attachment if useful

It can be helpful to include visual proof of the bug along with your written description. This could be a screenshot, video or text log file so your developer has a better idea of what the problem may be and how it's occurring. This can help them identify and fix the problem faster.

9. Include your contact details

A developer may require more information even if you have created a bug report effectively. Leave your contact details where a developer can get in touch with you. These contact details could include a n email address, phone number or online messaging handle.

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Tips for writing an effective bug report

Follow these tips for writing an effective bug report:

  • Write about one bug at a time per report. If you have found multiple bugs, then include a separate report for each bug. This helps a developer keep track of the bugs and they can easily see the priority and information for each one without it getting confusing.

  • Report the bug immediately. If you find any bugs while testing the system, report them as soon as possible. This helps you give plenty of details while the error is still new to you.

  • Try and test. Test the bug several times to ensure that you have a clear idea of the problem so you can include as much detail in your report as possible. Try to reproduce on various devices, browsers and operating systems.

  • Check whether the bug has already been reported. If it's a common bug, it's very likely that another tester has already found it and reported it. If that's the case, add any relevant extra details in a comment. Avoid creating a duplicate report.

  • Read through your report before pressing "submit." When you have completed your report, read through it one more time. Make sure that it makes sense and you're communicating your knowledge to the developer clearly. If it feels confusing or complex, rewrite it so that it's easy to understand.

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