Dear Dinosaur Advice Column

Got questions about Robert's Rules of Order? Ann Macfarlane is a dinosaur who knows her stuff. She explains the complexity of Robert's Rules so it makes sense. She loves hearing from readers with their questions about Robert's Rules of Order.

I want it on the record!

Dear Dinosaur: When a member of our city council says, “I want this on the record!” do we have to include their remarks in the minutes?

Answer: Not necessarily. Robert’s Rules says that the purpose of minutes is to record the actions taken by the body. In general, minutes should not include individual remarks. If a member wants something included, the chair may ask the body if they wish to do so. The chair can say, “Is there any objection if these remarks are included in the minutes?” If someone objects, then the chair would put the matter to the group.


Chair:  All those in favor of allowing these remarks to be included in the minutes, please say “aye.”

Those in favor:  Aye.

Chair: All those opposed, please say “no.”

Those opposed: No.

Chair: The ayes have it, the motion passes, and the remarks will be included, OR The noes have it, the motion fails, and the remarks will not be included.

For more resources on minutes, search our blog category Meeting Minutes.

Dear Dinosaur provides simple, practical answers to questions about Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure. Send your questions to Dear Dinosaur here. Our answers are based on Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th edition. As always, nothing in this post constitutes legal or business advice. For complicated questions, seek a qualified authority.

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Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.


  1. Joe A Kunzler on November 23, 2020 at 11:10 am

    I think the solution is to couple action minutes to video of the meeting. If video is too expensive to provide – e.g. for a special district with a 6 figure budget – then go to audio. I know a transit CEO shares this view.

    • Ann Macfarlane on November 23, 2020 at 11:57 am

      Joe, this is a great suggestion! The clerk can include time stamp notations in the written minutes, so it’s easy for the resident to find the correct place. Thanks for writing.

  2. Laura Morgan on November 24, 2020 at 6:37 am

    Ann, thanks for that suggestion of the time stamp notation. I was required to listen to taped recordings once for the actual wording of a motion (no, we didn’t require motions in writing, it was a volatile group and we should have) and it was laborious because my tape recorder was not the best and it was quite a distance from the speaker.

    Happy Thanksgiving Ann.

    • Ann Macfarlane on November 24, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Laura, I’m glad you like it. Listening to a long recording is challenging! And Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  3. David Hansen on December 10, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Ms. Ann. I can always count on your timing. I’ve wondered many times about this and now you answered my Q’s. Thank you

    • Ann Macfarlane on December 10, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      David, so glad to hear it! Thanks for writing.

  4. Kathy Irvine on December 16, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    If a Board member has a hidden agenda item which has not been placed on the agenda under New Business, how does the Board handle this? I’m thinking if it’s not on the agenda, you should have it placed on the agenda for the next meeting. No surprises.

    • Ann Macfarlane on December 16, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      Kathy, in general, a board member with a new agenda item should let the leadership know so that it can be prepped and placed on the agenda. However, under Robert’s Rules of Order, board member may bring up a new item under “new business” without any advance warning. Two thoughts on this: if you are talking about a local government body, there may be restrictions on what can be brought up based on the notice requirements of your sunshine laws. And if you are a private nonprofit, you may also want to limit surprises under this item by passing a procedural rule that advance notice must be given. Thanks for writing!