What to include in meeting minutes?

secretary thinking what to include in meeting minutes

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Updated November 20, 2022

Readers sometimes ask us what exactly to include in meeting minutes. This is our best understanding of the content according to our experience and Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th edition.

  • The name of the body that is meeting and the type of meeting (regular, special, annual, continued, study session, “Committee of the Whole,” executive, closed, etc.)
  • The date and place of the meeting and when the meeting begins.
  • For a small board, the members of the body who are present, and the names of staff and guests who are present.
  • Who is serving as chair and who as secretary or clerk.
  • Whether a quorum is present. (Note that Robert’s Rules of Order do not require that this fact be noted, but we in Jurassic Parliament believe that it is wise to include it. Some attorneys recommend this also.)
  • Whether the minutes of any previous meeting were read and approved. Note that corrections are made to the text of the minutes being approved, but the minutes of this meeting merely state “the minutes were approved as corrected,” without specifying what the corrections were.
  • The fact of any reports that are given. Ordinarily reports are not included in the minutes themselves, though motions included in the reports and considered by the body will be included. Instead, reports are noted as “received for filing.” If a report is listed on the agenda for delivery but no report is made, that fact does not need to be included. Read more about reports here.
  • Brief summaries of oral staff reports and salient information may be included. It can be efficient to request the staff themselves to provide the summary.
  • If a “consent agenda” is used, in which several items are voted on with a single vote (“en bloc”), sufficient identifying information for each of the items should be included so that it is clear what was approved. Read more about consent agenda here.
  • The texts of any main motions considered by the body, as finally voted on, and what the body did with them (passed, defeated, referred to committee, postponed etc.). Note that details of each amendment, who proposed it, and how it was voted on are NOT included. Robert’s Rules of Order says that the name of the maker of each main motion should be included, though we know of many groups that have chosen not to do this. Robert’s Rules also says that the name of the seconder of the motion should not be included, but many civic groups do include this information. Read about different ways to record votes here.
  • Secondary motions ONLY if it is necessary to record them for completeness or clarity; the name of the mover and the vote are not included in such cases.
  • The outcome of all significant Points of Order and Appeals. This becomes precedent for the body. Note that Robert’s Rules say “ALL Points of Order.” Sometimes, however, frequent Points of Order are made just to remind members of their rules of decorum or procedure. In such cases Jurassic Parliament believes that no purpose would be served by recording them. Read about Point of Order and Appeal here.
  • If the body went into executive (secret) session, the time of entering executive session and the time of leaving it. Read about executive session here.
  • The time of adjournment

DO NOT INCLUDE in meeting minutes

Note that the following items are ordinarily not included in meeting minutes:

  • The name of the seconder of any main motion (unless law or regulation requires it).
  • Details of routine procedural matters (approving the agenda, call the question, etc.)
  • Withdrawn motions
  • Remarks made by individual members
  • Remarks made by the public or audience
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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.