WBS Dictionary

The WBS dictionary supports the work breakdown structure (WBS) by providing detail about the control accounts and work packages it contains. The dictionary can provide detailed information about each work package or summary information at the control account level. The approved WBS, its corresponding WBS dictionary, and the project scope statement comprise the scope baseline for the project. Information in the WBS dictionary can include:

  • Code of account identifier
  • Description of work
  • Assumptions and constraints
  • Responsible organization or person
  • Schedule milestones
  • Associated schedule activities
  • Resources required
  • Cost estimates
  • Quality requirements
  • Acceptance criteria
  • Technical information or references
  • Agreement (contract) information

The WBS dictionary is progressively elaborated as the planning processes progress. Once the WBS is developed, the statement of work for a particular work package may be defined, but the necessary activities, cost estimates, and resource requirements may not be known. Thus, the inputs for the WBS dictionary are more detailed than for the WBS.

Use the information from your project to tailor the form to best meet your needs. The WBS dictionary can receive information from:

  • Requirements documentation
  • Project scope statement
  • Assumption log
  • Activity list
  • Milestone list
  • Activity resource requirements
  • Cost estimates
  • Quality metrics
  • Contracts

As part of the scope baseline, the WBS dictionary provides information to:

  • Activity list
  • Network diagram
  • Duration estimates
  • Project schedule
  • Cost estimates
  • Project budget
  • Quality management plan
  • Resource management plan
  • Activity resource requirements
  • Risk register
  • Procurement management plan
  • Accepted deliverables

The WBS dictionary is an output from the process 5.4 Create WBS in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. It is progressively elaborated throughout the project.

Tailoring tips

Consider the following tips to help tailor the WBS dictionary to meet your needs:

  • For smaller projects you may not need a WBS dictionary.
  • For projects that do use a WBS dictionary you can tailor the information to be as detailed or as high level as you need. You may just want to list a description of work, the cost estimate, key delivery dates, and assigned resources.
  • For projects that have deliverables outsourced you can consider the WBS dictionary as a mini- statement of work for the outsourced deliverables.
  • Projects that use WBS dictionaries can reference other documents and the relevant sections for technical, quality, or agreement information.


The WBS dictionary should be aligned and consistent with the following documents:

  • Project charter
  • Requirements documentation
  • Project scope statement
  • WBS
  • Activity list


Document element Description
Work package name Enter a brief description of the work package deliverable from the WBS
Code of account Enter the code of account from the WBS.
Milestones List any milestones associated with the work package.
Due dates List the due dates for milestones associated with the work package.
ID Enter a unique activity identifier—usually an extension of the WBS code of accounts.
Activity Describe the activity from the activity list or the schedule.
Team resource Identify the resources, usually from the resource requirements
Labor hours Enter the total effort required.
Labor rate Enter the labor rate, usually from cost estimates.
Labor total Multiply the effort hours times the labor rate.
Total cost Sum the labor, materials, and any other costs associated with the work package.
Quality requirements Document any quality requirements or metrics associated with the work package.
Acceptance criteria Describe the acceptance criteria for the deliverable, usually from the scope statement.
Technical information Describe or reference any technical requirements or documentation needed to complete the work package.
Agreement information Reference any contracts or other agreements that impact the work package.