What is a resolution in Robert’s Rules?

In Robert’s Rules of Order, a RESOLUTION is a special type of MOTION. My friend the late John Stackpole, a distinguished parliamentarian, described it this way: “A resolution is a motion in fancy dress.”

A resolution is used for important or complex questions, or when greater formality is desired. A resolution should be put into writing before it is offered. It’s a good idea to prepare and distribute a proposed resolution in advance of a meeting, so that the members will have time to grapple with it.

Resolutions committee

Some organizations have a resolutions committee, which considers proposed resolutions in advance of the annual convention or meeting. Your organization’s bylaws will determine whether a resolutions committee has the power to screen, amend, recommend, or reject resolutions submitted by the members.

How to move a resolution?

To move a resolution, a member seeks recognition at the proper time and says, for example:

I move the adoption of the following resolution: Resolved, That the Dinoville Service Club will partner with the Dinoville Welfare Department to provide a program of after-school activities for delinquent dinosaurs.

Such a resolution is processed in the same way as a main motion.

Adding a preamble to a resolution

Ordinarily, Robert’s Rules of Order recommends that reasons for adopting a motion should not be included within the motion itself. The reason is that some members who approve of the action proposed may dislike voting for the motion if it states reasons with which they disagree. However, when special circumstances make it desirable to include a brief statement of background, the motion can be cast as a resolution with the background or reasons incorporated in a PREAMBLE.

The preamble is placed before the motion itself—the resolving clause. For example:

Whereas, Continued delinquency among young dinosaurs in the City of Dinoville poses a continuing challenge to the well-being of our city; and
Whereas, The Dinoville Service Club has made a special commitment to at-risk youth; and
Whereas, The Dinoville Welfare Department has developed a promising program of activities to engage delinquent dinosaurs after their school day is ended; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Dinoville Service Club will partner with the Dinoville Welfare Department to provide a program of after-school activities for delinquent dinosaurs.

A resolution does not have to include a preamble. An interesting fact is that the preamble is considered and voted on last, AFTER the resolving clause or clauses. The reason is that if the resolving clauses change, the preamble might change too.

Processing a series of resolutions

It is possible to offer a series of resolutions by a single motion. If the resolutions are related to a single subject, and a member wants to consider them separately, the member can move to “Divide the Question,” which takes a majority vote. If the series contains resolutions on independent subjects, any resolution in the series must be taken up and voted on separately at the demand of a single member.

Learn more about resolutions, preambles, and related topics in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition, sections 10:13-25.

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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. Jackie Schad on February 4, 2022 at 11:12 am

    This is a great summary. Recently I have received questions from members about resolutions – what are they? how am I supposed to write one? This is perfect so thank you Ann.

    • Ann Macfarlane on February 4, 2022 at 11:20 am

      Thanks for writing, Jackie. So glad to hear that it is helpful!