T-Shirt-Size Estimations

T-Shirt Size Estimation

T-shirt sizing is a technique through which relative sizing is practiced. Through comparison of stories, one can break them down into buckets of an extra-large, large, medium, small, and extra-small. Estimating absolute time or effort is not as important evaluating in relative buckets.

by Pete R.

T-Shirt Size Estimation

It is vital to understand how things compare to one another to get a rough idea and not waste time on false precision.

How Is T-Shirt Size Estimation Done?

Each team would establish the size of the story that is relative to that of others. For a team, the medium might be twice as small as a big, or for another team, it might be three times as small. The most important thing is that the relative sizes have to be consistent over time. Once this has been established, one can use the estimations for achieving predictable releases.

When to Use T-Shirt Size Estimation?

The following Scrum process requires T-shirt size estimation.

For Product Backlog

It needs to be used for the product backlog since it is a collection of epics, themes, and user stories.

User Stories

These are the most important stories which are placed at the top of the product backlog. They are scheduled to be implemented by the next iterations. Granular user stores require T-shirt size estimation as each story would need to deliver tangible value to the product owner.


Themes come further down the product backlog stack. They are a collection of several related user stories. The user stories need to be also groomed using the T-shirt size estimation before they can be ready for implementation.


Finally, at the bottom of the product backlog, one would find the epics. As the name implies, an Epic is a collection of several to even more than a hundred user stories. T-shirt size estimation is used for checking the performance of the epics.

Pros of T-Shirt Size Estimation

  • When it comes to affinity estimation, it is handy.
  • It is excellent through which terms can be introduced to relative estimating.
  • Forcing the estimate into a fixed set of sizes would lead to the process is quicker.
  • It is a prevalent agile relative estimation method.
  • Known for being a very straightforward strategy. T-shirt size estimation can be utilized rather quickly with a vast amount of items.

Cons of T-Shirt Size Estimation

  • Not useful if relative sizes are not consistent.
  • May be challenging to adapt to for new members who have never used the technique.
  • Not as useful for all types of estimation such as ones which cannot be defined in relative terms


The main advantage of T-shirt size estimation is the ease through which it can be started. It is a great way of becoming accustomed to relative estimation. Hence, it is important to start them if the team finds it to be easier. Underlying numbers would need to be put to shift using the numbers directly for better performance gradually.

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