Burrows are user-defined areas in your fort where selected dwarves live and work. You can assign these areas like zones and assign one or more dwarves to them. You may assign the same dwarf to multiple burrows, if desired. Dwarves will only use workshops, dig walls, use rooms, etc. in burrows they are assigned to, though dwarves not assigned to any burrow will still use workshops etc. even if they are located in a burrow assigned to some other dwarves.
Military dwarves that are on duty will ignore burrows. Off duty military dwarves will respect their burrows in the same ways as civilian dwarves. If a military dwarf's training area is outside of his burrow, that dwarf will not train when off duty.
Burrows do not restrict a dwarf's movements; they only restrict the locations where dwarves may perform jobs, and acquire the materials for those jobs. An idle dwarf can still go anywhere, regardless of burrows. (Note: a Civilian Alert overrides this behavior.)
 Defining a new burrow
To enter the "define burrow" mode, press.
You'll be presented with a list of all of your existing burrows. Change which burrow is selected with your secondary selection keys.
To add a new burrow to the list, press. The new burrow created this way starts with no tiles and a default name.
To configure a burrow, select it and press enter. This is where you'll be able to set the burrow's name, define what tiles it encompasses, and add or remove individual dwarves. Defining the burrow's tiles can be done using rectangles much like other mass-selection or mass-designation situations elsewhere in the game, or you can paint with the mouse. Unlike other zone selections (but like designations,) burrow selections can take place over multiple z-levels, meaning that you can select cubes, rather than rectangles; also like zone selections, they may overlap. Pressto set whether you're adding or subtracting tiles from the burrow. You can also set the colors and symbols used for different burrows to help tell them apart.
Unlike activity zones, burrows can also be extended through not-yet revealed tiles. You can only see the parts of the burrow that have been revealed, but the burrow actually extends exactly as far as you defined it.
After defining the area of the burrow, you can add citizens, however they will stand wherever they happen to be until assigned a task inside the burrow. Note, however, that citizens may walk from one point of the burrow to another point even if the path they walk on is not part of the burrow. If you define a burrow which is split into two areas, the citizens may walk between those two areas, outside of the burrow you defined. The order of the dwarves in the list is based on an internal ID number, which doesn't correspond with any in game characteristic of the dwarf.
 Deleting Burrows
Deleting a burrow is easy, just enter "define burrow" mode by pressing, select the burrow to delete, then press , and confirm with .
 Uses for Burrows
 Defending an Area
Full article: Scheduling
Burrows are one of the ways you can give passive orders to squads and civilians during alerts. Under the squad schedule menu (Press ) you can add an order to any particular month for the chosen alert with or edit their existing orders with . On the Give Orders menu, use to cycle through the orders given to squads. The order "Defend Burrows" cannot be given without first creating burrows to assign defenders to. Under a "Defend Burrows" order, dwarves in the squad are stationed in the specific area and will defend it proactively.
 Civilian Alerts
Normally, you need to add citizens to a burrow manually when defining it to have them respect the boundaries. However, a civilian alert will automatically confine all non military dwarves to the burrows defined in the alert for as long as the alert is active. When you set the civilian alert level to an alert including a defined burrow, your civilian dwarves will ignore their normal burrow based job restrictions even if their burrow is one of those in the civilian alert.
See these beginner-friendly instructions on how to create and use a civilian alert burrow.
 Trader to the Depot, STAT
You can define your trade depot as a burrow, then when the traders appear, add your broker to that burrow. He will stop what he is doing, go to the trade depot, and wait for the traders. If you include trade stockpiles in the burrow, he can even help move goods until they get there
 I'm sorry, the Mayor is busy
This is an easy fix for the current bug that prevents elevation of your nobles while traders are present on the map. Create a burrow around your leader's rooms. Stockpile some food and drink inside. When the liaison shows up, add the leader to the burrow and he will scurry off to his rooms. Lock the door. Wait until the merchants have left the map entirely. Unlock the door. If he is also the bookkeeper or manager, so much the better. Set accuracy to 'highest' or queue up a lot of tiny jobs, and the leader will have something to do while locked in his rooms.
 Help! Goblins are chasing me in circles!
One problem with outdoor work is the lack of safe areas, the presence of ambushers, and civilian dwarves who will, by default, run in the dumbest direction possible. You can create small bolt-holes in the wilderness outside your fort and give them a floor hatch as a door. When ambushers appear, add your outdoor workers to the nearest bolt-hole burrow. After they run inside, lock the door. You don't even need to (and probably shouldn't) hook these bolt holes up to your main fort; they are for short term emergencies. You could stock them with a little food and booze, just in case.
 Alternative to Hot Keys
You can define small burrows to areas you would like to zoom to. Then by pressing "w", select the burrow, "z" to 'center on burrow' your view will be moved to that spot like a hot key. This is useful when you run out of hotkey slots.
Currently there are several bugs in the burrow implementation, the most notable being the burrow alternative to the Planepacked glitch: If you put a material-gathering moody dwarf into a burrow that does not contain the claimed workshop, the dwarf will "forget" that he already brought this type of item to his workshop and repeat this until there are no more items of this type in the burrow, or you let him out of the burrow. When the dwarf starts working on his artifact, he will use everything he brought to the burrow to make an artifact of arbitrarily high value.
On the other hand, the most common bug is the "Dwarf cancels Store Item: Item inaccessible" message spam that results from idle dwarves being in a burrow that contains a stockpile but not the item the stockpile wants to have.