How to write the minutes of meetings

recording formal discussions and decision making

Minutes of meetings

Lots of organisations, groups, and businesses have meetings where a record needs to be kept of the proceedings and decisions made. Somebody in each case needs to write the minutes of meetings.

  • an informal meeting of hobby club members
  • the annual general meeting of a charity
  • a formal meeting of school governors
  • director’s meetings of small or large companies

The written record of these events are called the ‘minutes of meetings’.

The purpose of taking minutes of the meeting is more or less the same in each case – to keep an accurate record of events for future possible reference.

  • when it took place,
  • who was in attendance
  • who was absent
  • what was discussed
  • what decisions were made

The minutes of meetings are a record of discussions and decisions, and over time they might form an important historical record (in the case of a government’s war cabinet for instance).

There might also be a legal requirement for sets of minutes to be produced in an organisation – as in the case of a bank or a limited company.

How much detail?

The amount of detail recorded will depend upon the type of meeting and maybe its historical culture. Some organisations like to have a record that captures the spirit of the discussions that took place; others put their emphasis on the decisions that are made.

One thing is certain: the person taking the minutes is not expected to give a dramatic or poetic description of what takes place. The minutes of a meeting are a summary, recording its most important features.

You can get an idea of the culture and style of the group by looking at the minutes of previous meetings. These will give you a guide to the amount of detail normally required and the way in which decisions are recorded.

Different types of meetings record these details in various styles. A group of parents running a children’s football team does not require the same degree of formality as a managing board of company directors. Roughly speaking, there are three types of minute taking


This might be no more than a bulleted list of points, a table with boxes to record deadlines, or a checklist of topics.


These will give a brief information on time-date-place, who was present, and details of decisions or resolutions passed. These can often be compressed onto a single side of A4 paper.


A document of several pages, with headings and sub-headings, and maybe numbered points. These might provide a record of the discussion in summarized form, along with named individuals given specific responsibilities, plus any deadlines for action.

The Role of a Minutes Secretary

The minutes of a meeting are normally taken by the secretary, whilst the chair conducts the meeting.

It is the role of the chair to set the agenda, introduce items, and decide who speaks to the issues.

In a very big organisation the secretary might delegate the actual recording of events to an assistant or clerk.

It’s important that the minutes secretary follows the progress of the meeting carefully, recording major items of debate and decisions that are taken. The published agenda is a useful template by which to take notes during the meeting. This keeps the order of topics and the structure of the meeting intact.

For this reason the secretary and the chair need to work closely in collaboration with each other.

If a decision taken by the meeting is not clear, the secretary should ask the chair to clarify matters – which often helps other people as well.

Some types of meeting even require a record of who spoke to the issues on the agenda, and what points of argument they made. In such cases, a summary rather than a verbatim record is appropriate.

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Writing the minutes of meetings

It is most likely that you will make rough notes during the meeting, then convert these to your finished report of the meeting after it has finished.

Remember that you are summarizing the most important issues, so you need to use a number of skills at the same time

  • good listening skills
  • the ability to summarize
  • good note-taking skills

Your job is to distinguish the less from the more important points of discussion. For this you can use your own system of abbreviations.

At the meeting
  • listen attentively, jotting down key words
  • use the agenda document as a template
  • leave enough space between items for your jottings
  • summarize what’s said, using a system of shorthand
  • ask for clarification if necessary

If the discussion was about The Allied and Providential Assurance Company for instance, you would not write out that name in full ever time. APAC would be a perfectly useful abbreviation in your notes.

Many people find it difficult to listen carefully and make notes at the same time. This becomes even more difficult if they are an active member of the meeting. For that reason a minutes secretary is not normally expected to participate as fully in a meeting as the other members.

If the meeting is not too big, you can probably record people’s contributions using their initials (KP, HT, MA) rather than their full names. You can also do this in any minutes so long as the names appear in full in the list of attendees.

The first time the name of an organisation is mentioned, it should be spelled out in full – as in Product Management Corporation, or the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Trust. Thereafter, you can use acronyms formed by the initial letters of its name (PMC and QEJT). In very big meetings, these names and acronyms are often listed in an appendix.

Prepare in advance as much as possible. Make sure you have a copy of the minutes of the last meeting, and that they have been circulated to other committee members. Making a record of a meeting is always easier if you know the agenda in advance, and even if you know who might be in attendance.

Make sure you have a copy of the meeting agenda. Get to the meeting early so that you can record the names of other people as they arrive – if you know them.

If you don’t know the attendees, wait until the meeting has started, then circulate a blank sheet on which people are asked to PRINT their names. Don’t circulate this attendance sheet before the meeting starts, because if some people arrive late, the chances are that they will be missed.

It might happen that an item on the agenda is not discussed or is deferred for some reason until the next meeting. You should nevertheless record this fact, so that a future meeting is able to check on the status of the item and decide if it is still relevant.

Some meetings can generate discussions which become arguments, with differences of opinion expressed quite forcefully. A great deal of tact and diplomacy is required in recording such discussions.

The best way to deal with such occasions is to record the fact that there was disagreement, but without going into any details. You can use a form of words such as ”There was disagreement concerning the choice of contractor for the project, but following discussion it was agreed that …’

Do not intrude any of your own opinions into the record of events. Your task is to appear neutral and impartial – even if you have strong feelings about hte topics being discussed.

Try to get agreement on the date of the next meeting before the meeting ends and people leave. That strictly is the chairperson’s job, but you will be doing yourself a favour in getting agreement on this issue.

If some points of the discussion are still not clear to you, it’s a good idea to ask speakers to clarify matters to you before they leave, otherwise you will have extra work in tracking this information when you come to write the formal minutes.

Cabinet plot against the Prime Minister – using the minutes

Notes on the Agenda

1. The name of the meeting or group

This can be very important in some cases – particularly if the minutes of the meeting will be circulated widely outside the group itself, or even to the public.

2. Those in attendance

The meeting might be composed of delegates or representatives from a variety of organisations. It’s the secretary’s job to note both their names and the organisations they represent.

List the names in alphabetical order. This avoids any suggestion of priority or importance.

3. Minutes of the last meeting

It is usual for these to be looked at briefly, with a view to making sure that everybody agrees they are a correct record.

It might be necessary to note the outcomes of any decisions taken on which action has been taken

Larger or on-going issues very often appear on the agenda of the current meeting, and discussion of them can be deferred until these items are considered.

4. Agenda item One

You should keep the notes for each agenda item separate and quite distinct from each other on the page.

Leave plenty of space between each of your notes.

Template for Meeting Minutes

1. Name of Organisation or group

2. Name of Meeting – it might be a regular meeting or one with a specific purpose

3. Date of Meeting

4. Names of those attending – plus their positions or the organisations they represent

5. Apologies for absence – those giving their apologies for non-attendance

6. Agenda item One – This is usually the minutes of the last meeting

7. Agenda item Two

8. Agenda item Three … and so on …

12. Date of the next meeting

13. Any other business

The papers for a meeting might normally include the following documents (depending on the formality of the meeting or group):

  • An agenda for the forthcoming meeting
  • The minutes of the last meeting
  • Attachments, reports, or letters

Committee members are given these papers in advance, and they are supposed to have read them all before they arrive at the meeting. That’s the theory – but the reality is often different.

People often start reading through these documents at the meeting itself, and asking questions about them – which is one of the many reasons that meetings take longer than they should. It is the job of the chair to impose discipline over such issues.

Writing up the minutes of meetings

You will be creating the minutes from your notes taken during the meeting. Here is one overwhelmingly useful tip on this part of the task: The sooner after the meeting you do it, the easier it will be.

That’s because your rough notes will make more sense, and you are not relying on your medium or long term memory to recapture any names or details of the discussion.

The structure of the minutes will mirror the meeting agenda

Use the past tense (“Mr Parkinson outlined the plan”) and avoid use of the passive voice (“The plan was outlined by Mr Parkinson”)

Some organisations and groups like to draw attention to the decisions and outcomes by concluding the report of each agenda item with an action point. Here’s an example:

There was a discussion of the proposed alternative route and the impact it would have on local residents and businesses. It was unanimously decided that a formal challenge should be registered at the earliest possible date.

ACTION POINT: The treasurer Mrs Jones will seek volunteers to form a transport sub-committee, and Mr Davis as chair will contact the four local councillors and invite them to address the next meeting.

Sample minutes of meetings

Westleigh Maintenance Company Ltd

Annual General Meeting

Monday 19 July 2010


Julie Culshaw, Mary Greenhalgh, Vera Sisson, Ingrid Kempster, Edward Kempster, Irene Rodger, Colin Rodger, Gerry Clarke, Edith Pickles, Pat Powell, Heather Pollitt, Roy Johnson.


Manoj Hira, Reg Marsden, Lavinia Marsden, John Sillar

1. Minutes of the last AGM held on 22 July 2009 were accepted.

2. The accounts for the year ended 31 March 2010 were accepted.

Although these showed an overall loss, this was due to late maintenance payments, and these had since been paid.

3. Appointment of accountants

The finance director suggested that we remain with our current accountants, and this was accepted.

4. Appointment of directors.

The current directors were all standing for re-election. There were no nominations for new directors. The current directors were re-elected.

5. Appointment of company secretary

Julie Culshaw moved a vote of thanks and appreciation to the secretary and other directors in recognition of the amount of work they undertook on behalf of the Company.

Heather Pollitt was elected as secretary.

6. Increase in service charge

Because of the lack of any surplus to pay for improvements and maintenance, the directors recently looked into the possibility of arranging a bank overdraft. This was not pursued because of the cost and the excessive bureaucracy attached. The possibility of extraordinary payments was also discussed and rejected in favour of an increase in the service charge.

The meeting finally agreed that the directors should prepare a financial projection for the next one to two years, based on an increase in the annual service charge to somewhere between £1100 and £1200.

Any Other Business

7. Managing agents

The directors recently decided to end the relationship with the Guthrie Partnership as managing agents, because it was felt that the directors themselves were able to act more efficiently on behalf of Westleigh and its interests.

However, the advisory services of Alec Guthrie himself would be retained as and when required for legal purposes.

8. Maintenance

Directors had spoken to Dave Roberts, who agreed to act as a point of contact for local maintenance services. It was stressed that this did not represent an agreement to cover the costs of any works commissioned: these could only be met following agreement of the directors.

Gerry Clarke reminded the meeting that in cases where leaks from one apartment were affecting another, the costs of any repairs and redecoration were the responsibility of the owner causing the leaks.

9. Gardening

There was general dissatisfaction with the services provided by the current gardeners. A quotation from another local gardening service had been obtained, and it was agreed to change to this alternative service for a trial period once sufficient funds were available – probably towards the end of September.

10. Purchase of freehold

The purchase of the freehold was now complete, and Westleigh owners were in a position to either cease or continue making ground rent payments. Pat Powell suggested that the current payment should be included in the annual service charge, payable by one direct debit. This suggestion was accepted.

11. External re-decoration

The replacement of the finials, cleaning of driveways, and repainting of fascia boards was almost complete. A vote of thanks was extended to Edith Pickles for allowing the use of her garage for storage during these works.

The meeting concluded at 20.15

Example of minutes of meetings Form
Name of Organization
Purpose of Meeting
Topic Discussion Action Responsible

© Roy Johnson 2010

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90 Responses to “How to write the minutes of meetings”

  1. Charles Wood says:

    I am disabled and have been requested to stand for Club Secretary, at our Lawn Bowls Club. What i am looking free download of meeting and min’s note templates. can you offer any hekp??

  2. mantex says:

    Certainly! Templates and examples are both shown above.

    Just follow the instructions of this ‘How to’ guidance notes, and you will learn how to take the minutes of any meeting.

    If you have specific queries, feel free to raise another question.

  3. Jane Smith says:

    Minute takers often complain that they don’t know how much detail is required in the minutes. Also it is impossible to produce good minutes when the meeting is chaotic. What do you advise?

  4. mantex says:

    You’re quite right Jane – knowing the amount of detail required is a tricky judgement. The easiest way round this is to look at the minutes of previous meetings that have been voted on and accepted by a group or committee. If a minute-taker follows the same level of detail, that should answer the problem.

    Chaotic meetings (which are quite common) are best recorded by the minute-taker sticking strictly to the listed agenda items. The substances of the minutes in such a case are probably best decided by the minute-taker collaborating with the meeting chair to decide what decisions were taken – and how much of the chaos should be recorded. Probably very little 🙂

  5. John Rostron says:

    I act as minutes secretary for three committees within a large wildlife charity. These are recorded in moderate detail, and I make extensive use of numbering. Word, and other word-processing programs offer this facility. Over many years I have tried to get this to work for me, but it is only recently that I have actually managed to get it to perform as it it is supposed to. However, having now got it functioning, I would strongly recommend doing it this way. Certainly it makes producing a template much easier, and provides consistency to the structure of the minutes.

  6. mantex says:

    Thanks for the suggestion John. I take the minutes for a residents association, and I too use a linear system of numbered points. But I didn’t know that Word had this automatic feature.

  7. LES says:

    I was always lead to believe that the signed copies of a club/organisation’s minutes were required by law to be placed in a book/folder in such a way as it was not possible to remove/change them. such as by gluing/stitching them into a binder.

    is this true or just an urban myth?

  8. Roy Johnson says:

    That would depend upon the status and seriousness of the organisation. If it was the committee of the local darts club, I doubt if such strict conditions would apply. But if it was a quasi-legal organisation, such as the shareholders of a bank, I can easily imagine it would be necessary to have such rules.

    One other common safeguard is that when the minutes have been agreed, copies are signed by the chair, plus the secretary or treasurer – and then copies are circulated to members. If one person attempted to change them thereafter, all other members would have the original and agreed minutes.

  9. Patty says:

    My question is does the recording secretary list herself or himself in with the attendees of the meeting or in some other field such as “also present?”

  10. Roy Johnson says:

    This will depend upon the conventions of the group or the meeting. Look at copies of previous minutes, and follow that style. If in doubt, always include everybody – including the minute-taker.

  11. Mamie Sarr says:

    Dear Mantex, this minutes taking article is very a useful guide. I’m nominated as committee secretary for an Internet Governance Forum. This is a big challenge for me though as I’ve never had any experience (first time) for writing minutes . I don’t have good skills in listening, note-taking and summary.
    Since there is always a high expectation from the committee for me to deliver, I feel somehow scared and usually in doubt as to whether am on track; capturing the right and important details in order to produce good minutes.

    Also as the secretary am expected to read out the minutes in our next meeting. How best can do it?


  12. Roy Johnson says:

    The answers to the questions and the issues you raise will depend upon the size of the organization and the committee. In very big organizations, meetings are controlled by the chair, working closely with the secretary – and the person who takes the minutes does just that, checking with the secretary for accuracy and completeness. In smaller organisations and committees, the secretary might also take the minutes.

    Who reads out the minutes of the last meeting? That will depend upon the traditions of the group. It might well be the secretary. Ask the previous secretaries what they did.

  13. Vicky Onel says:

    When should the minutes of an AGM be available to shareholders in a Home Owners Association?


  14. Roy Johnson says:

    Organisations can set their own terms and conditions on these matters, but the general rule is as follows:

    An AGM is held once a year (by definition). The exact date might be fixed in advance; but if it is not, members of the association need to be given advance notice – on average at least a month.

    The papers issued for the meeting will include the agenda, probably a financial report, and probably, the minutes of the previous AGM.

    This enables members of the association to check that decisions made the previous year have been followed up.

    But because a year may be a long time between decisions being made and formally approved, some groups might produce a set of minutes a short time after the meeting – to let people who were not in attendance know what went on.

    I am the Chair of a home owners association where I live – and that’s what we do. But if I was the CEO of Standard European Banking Inc, the conventions might differ.

    I hope that helps.

  15. Pat Miller says:

    I find that the Chair of the meetings where I take minutes does not make a point of summing up after each Agenda item is discussed. I do prompt as best I can but he very quickly moves onto the next item. Is it in order for me to ask for this to be done openly before he moves on? I don’t want to undermine him.

    Thank you.

  16. Pat Miller says:

    Do you have to strictly adhere to the number of the Agenda items in the transcript of the minutes?

  17. Roy Johnson says:

    In all but the most casual and informal of meetings, I think the answer must be YES. Otherwise, there would be no record that an item had been considered or discussed.

  18. Roy Johnson says:

    You have my sympathy. I don’t think there could be any objection if you ask politely. But depending on the type of meeting, keep in mind that you can pass your minutes on to the chair for ratification. If there is something you have missed, it could be the chair’s responsibility to rectify the matter, since the chair is responsible for the overall conduct of the meeting.

  19. Bryn says:

    What are five types of information one would record in a set of minutes regarding a discussion about an item from the agenda ?

  20. Bryn says:

    What are five important personal qualities of a good chairperson?

  21. Roy Johnson says:

    A good chairperson should normally:

    1. Keep all discussion relevant to items on the agenda
    2. Give everybody an equal chance to speak
    3. Make any decisions clear to the whole meeting
    4. Resolve any disputes as amicably as possible
    5. Avoid personal bias in presentation of issues

  22. Roy Johnson says:

    A good minute-taker should normally:

    1. Summarise the discussion of agenda items
    2. Record decisions accurately and unambiguously
    3. Make clear who is responsible for any actions
    4. Record the date and details of the next meeting
    5. Check the accuracy of the minutes with the chair

  23. jock says:

    Can the minute taker refuse to issue the minutes until the next AGM. I have been told it’s illegal to
    issue the minutes before the next meeting.

  24. Roy Johnson says:

    That sounds like control freakery to me Jock. The only reason to hold back the circulation of minutes would be to prevent discussion of their contents. I can imagine it HAPPENING – but to enshrine such procedures into a rule is something I have never come across.

  25. akin says:

    if the minute of last meeting is passed subject to correction being effected, will its whole content appear with that of the current meeting in the next minute; will it be printed again for members to go through and verify that appropiate corrections have been made?

  26. Roy Johnson says:

    You would think that this would be the logic of maintaining correctness. But in practice, I doubt if such rigorous checking would be carried out by most organisations. If anybody has a fear that their correction or amendment might be overlooked, they can always ask for their observation to be minuted. That means that if the secretary fails to make the change, the objection or request for a change should be there on record.

  27. hassan says:

    If someone was absent for the previous meeting and a decision was made, which he doesn’t agree with. When a minute is read can he request for correction?

  28. Roy Johnson says:

    Yes – this is why the minutes of a previous meeting are considered at the next. The person raising the objection might not be able to overturn the previous decision, but it is possible to register an objection or ask for a correction to be made.

  29. Muhammad Azam Khan says:

    Dear Mantex
    How necessary is it for the Secretary to seek ‘confirmation’ on the minutes of the ‘last’ meeting? Is it necessary for someone amongst the members to second the ‘confirmation’ once the secretary calls so? If yes, does this constitute an accepted official procedure in a country like UK?

    Many thanks

  30. Roy Johnson says:

    It is normally the Chair of the meeting who asks for approval of the minutes of the last meeting. The Secretary is formally regarded as someone whose role is to take a note of what goes on and is agreed. The members of the committee then have an opportunity to question or challenge the accuracy of the minutes. That is the normal traditional procedure in the UK – though of course there are often many local variations of these procedures

  31. Michele says:

    I have been asked to take Matters Arising from the last meeting off of the Agenda. How do we follow up or discuss if the Action has been done if that is not on the Agenda?

  32. Roy Johnson says:

    You’re into tricky terriy here – organisational politics. Who has asked you to take ‘Matters arising’ off the agenda? Technically, the only pewho can normally do that is the Chair of the meeting (I am assuming you are the secretary). And my suspicion is that somebody doesn’t want an embarrassing topic discussed. For your own safety (if that is the case) I would suggest that you MINUTE the removal of ‘Matters arising’ so that there is a record of that removal.

  33. Ola Fowler says:

    Hello, how do I record the minutes where the agenda items are not treated serially. I was at a board meeting and there were supposed to be 2 presentations from external parties. One of parties to make a presentation had to leave because they were not called into the meeting on time. They however returned after that agenda item had been concluded, and the Board allowed them to make the presentation…well…. Under which agenda item will record their presentation? Please help. Thanks

  34. Roy Johnson says:

    If the meeting allowed the presentation to be made, I would suggest recording it as if it had taken place at its originally alloted place on the agenda. This would make it easier to locate the item for anybody looking back over the minutes at some future date. If there were any special reasons or potential controversies involved, you could always attach a note to the minute of this item.

  35. Abs says:

    How do you write the minutes of a small limited company that has only one Director who is also the only shareholder and has no secretary. What do you call the meeting and what’s the point in making minutes any way as I will be writing to myself as it were!! or is it a legal requirement? I would appreciate any clarification, thank you.

  36. Roy Johnson says:

    Don’t forget that the purpose of minutes is to create a written record of decisions taken – so that they are available at some date in the future. In the case of a one-person company you can simply dispense with everything except the decisions, the reasons for them, and the date they were made.

  37. Max says:

    If someone submits apologies but subsequently attends the meeting, do you still record their apologies as well as having them on the ‘present’ list?

  38. Roy Johnson says:

    No – there would be no point in doing that. The minutes should record who was present at the meeting, and if someone who previously apologised shows up, their presence should be listed, along with all the other attendees.

  39. David Tomkinson says:

    Can a portion of what was correctly recorded in a meeting’s minutes be DELETED ( at the next meeting when confirmation is called for ) because a committee member does not agree with what happened at that meeting ?

  40. Roy Johnson says:

    If somebody disagrees with the minutes of a previous meeting – first of all the entire committee must agree to any changes. Then the correct procedure would be to agree to a new, re-written record of what happened – leaving the original intact. By doing that, there is a complete record – both of the mistake, and its correction.

  41. Jo Greenwood says:

    do we have to keep signed copies of minutes of our social club committee meetings?

  42. Roy Johnson says:

    The degree of formality is normally dependent upon the nature of the organisation. A big public corporation might be legally required to keep records of its meetings – but a small local social club might only keep minutes from the last couple of years. It’s up to you to decide.

  43. Confused says:

    What should be done if it becomes necessary to change/add additional clarification to previously agreed minutes?

    A) can it be done, ie more specific detail added (understood as accepted by several attendees, whilst other attendees had a different understanding
    B) Members have changed since the meeting being discussed, if a quorum of those who attended agree to the revision, do they agree on & demand the changes or is it up to any new members to agree and decide?

    Thanks in advance

  44. Roy Johnson says:

    The answer, as in many other issues of this kind, is that an accurate record of any changes or additions should be written into the minutes. This means that if there is any challenge at a future date, you have a written record of what was agreed.

    If there is a difference of opinion between members, that too can be recorded – though it is usually the purpose of a meeting to come to an agreement.

    If there are new or different members in attendance, this should be accurately noted in the record of members present.

  45. Can someone write exactly all what a person is saying in a meeting, or i will write it clear like summarizing it?

  46. Roy Johnson says:

    The minutes of a meeting are a SUMMARY of the main points raised and the decisions reached. So yes, you must SUMMARIZE the discussion. For guidance on how to do this, look here –

  47. Chris Wells says:

    Thanks for this, I found it most helpful. The discussion was also very useful!

  48. gisera maruka says:

    Thanks very much,I was looking for help in relation to the matter. Now, am sure I can prepare my own minutes.

  49. Karen Kirby says:

    Is it proper to use abbreviations in the body of official minutes; for example, Nov. for November; @ for at; or HC for Henry County.

  50. Roy Johnson says:

    It’s always a good idea to AVOID using abbreviations in any official documents. They are useful when TAKING notes, but any official minutes will be more business-like without them. Here’s a guidance note on using abbreviations:

  51. Gillian says:

    I have a general secretary who, when she attends meetings to take minutes, thinks she is part of the technical team. She chips in, passes opinions and generally talks ‘out of turn’ in my opinion.
    The Chairman of the meeting does not restrain her, but I am required to approve her minutes before distribution!
    Does anyone have any tips on how to approach this lady?

  52. Roy Johnson says:

    1. It is the Chair’s responsibility to keep order in the meeting and to stop people talking out of turn or dominating the proceedings. So you obviously have a tricky ‘office politics’ situation. You don’t say what your own role on the committee is – but my guess is that somebody needs to have a word with the Chair of your meetings.

  53. Martie Visser says:

    I have lots of issues regarding taking minutes for our meetings. 1. they jumping arround points, no respect for the Manager, people chirping in all the time, not following the agenda, my minutes are never up to standard and therefor I lost Interest as I feel useless and incompentant.

  54. Roy Johnson says:

    It sounds as if you are getting a bad deal here Martie – though these are very common problems. If I were placed in such a position, I would resort to taking ‘minimalist’ minutes. That is, only recording decisions taken, with no attempt to record the discussion.

  55. Danny says:

    I have to take minutes in a new job and know very little on the subjects being discussed, how do I work around this?

  56. Roy Johnson says:

    The simplest solution would be to record only the DECISIONS made by the committee. But I would advise you to check with the chair first to make sure this was acceptable.

  57. Katrina Johns says:

    Sometimes at the meetings of a not-for-profit social club to which I belong, certain members will complain about another member by name and in a personal and derogatory manner. At the last meeting it was exclaimed to the president, “Can you please do something about Joe’s hygiene?” A discussion for about 10 minutes then followed. Should such matters be recorded in the minutes? On the one hand it may not seem important in the overall scheme of things but on the other hand a discussion has been had about someone who was named and spoken about in a derogatory fashion, and if such discussions are not recorded in the minutes then surely that would encourage committee members to feel they have the freedom to say whatever they like about other people without being accountable and putting that person’s reputation at risk?

  58. Roy Johnson says:

    The example you mention is surely not relevant to the purpose of the club? Such matters would not normally be recorded in the minutes. If somebody insists on doing so, the decision is the responsibility of the person chairing the meeting. If there are disagreements, it might be possible to record “There was a discussion of X – about which there were disagreements”.

  59. Tania says:

    At what point should the word draft be removed from the minutes of a meeting?

  60. Roy Johnson says:

    If the minutes are in draft form whilst people are being invited to pass comment or add items, then the term ‘draft’ should be removed BEFORE they are formally issued as an accurate record of the meeting.

  61. Elle says:

    When you have a numbered agenda and the conversation goes out of turn (i.e. agenda item #5 is discussed before agenda item #2), how do you prepare your minutes? Do you number the items in order of the agenda (ex. 1.0, 5.0, 2.0) or do you number the items in order of numerical sequence (ex; 1.0, 2.0 [for agenda item #5.0], 3.0 [for agenda item #2.0] and so forth)?

    This topic and discussion is very helpful, thank you for your time.

  62. Roy Johnson says:

    You can either stick to the original numbering sequence or create the new one – but in either case it should be made clear that the order of topics has been changed. The minutes of a meeting are a record of what took place AT the meeting. If the meeting decides to change the order of items on the agenda, then that then that itself is a decision which can be recorded. I hope that helps.

  63. Chris Robertson says:

    Can the writer of the minutes second the acceptance of the minutes?
    Can a new committee member object to reports in minutes previous to their appointment when they were not at the meeting, and insist on correction and re-submission of the minutes? These corrections could affect subsequently approved minutes. Can the secretary refuse on the grounds that a quorum accepted them?

    What is the procedure with minutes that the secretary circulates to the committee for amendments, and the chair calls for the deletion of a member’s opposing response to a decision.

    Thankyou for a very helpful website.

  64. Roy Johnson says:

    The answer to all these questions very much depends on level of formality adopted by the committee. But briefly – in a big formal committee the minute taker does not normally participate in the meeting; a new member cannot object to a minute of a previous meeting he or she did not attend; and the secretary could refuse on the grounds you mention. If a chair tries to remove the minuting of an objection, this decision can be challenged at the next meeting.

  65. Elena says:

    How does the secretary refer to her or himself in the minutes? Jane Smith raised a question. I raised a question. The secretary raised a question. Thanks for your assistance.

  66. Roy Johnson says:

    I think you have answered your own query Elena.

    But note that in very formal committees the secretary would not normally participate at all.

    In such cases the secretary’s job is simply to record what went on.

  67. Chris Robertson says:

    Is there some protocol about an action suggested by a committee member but discussed at a meeting that he could not attend? A different conclusion could have been reached had the less-informed committee members waited until he could speak to his motion.

  68. Roy Johnson says:

    If the members of a committee decide that they should discuss a suggestion from another member who is not present, that circumstance can be recorded. Whoever is present, the minutes of the meeting record the decisions made.

  69. Shahid Khan says:

    Hi Roy,

    Hope you are doing good? I am a Gen. Sec to a charitable trust. I just want to clarify a doubt here. When we talk about Minute Book, is it a physical book we need to maintain in order to make notes of the meeting or one can have a word document typed and then the print out can be signed by the other trustees and then filed for future references. Kindly assist. Hope my query is quite clear.

  70. Roy Johnson says:

    It does not matter if your records are kept in a bound book, or as a collection of print-outs. The important thing is that you must have a complete set of the minutes of previous meetings. This will be especially important if you are a charity since (in the UK at least) you must be able to demonstrate that you are accountable. I hope that helps.

  71. Jeanne Wokurka says:

    I am the Council Secretary for our church. After being shown how take minutes and3 years of service, I’m just now being told I’m not supposed to be using names regarding who said what.
    It’s this true? I read somewhere above initials? The Roberts something or other was just given to me by the person who reprimanded me…she was exposed at a prior meeting and it made her mad…
    Please let me know. I’m so angry over all of this I’m debating extending my term another 3 years. I don’t mind following the rules. I do mind the timing of it all, 1 month after her exposure and 2 months before my term ends… Mind you, minutes have been approved monthly.

  72. Roy Johnson says:

    The answer to this depends upon what your Council has done in the past. Have a look at the minutes of previous meetings, and follow their style. If you are still in doubt, consult the chair of the meeting and ask for a ruling.

  73. Roshi R says:

    Thanks, very useful article! Difference of opinion was mentioned in the ‘At the Meeting ‘section . Is there a term that can be used for difference in opinion?

  74. Roy Johnson says:

    You could say that there was ‘disagreement’ or ‘conflicting views’.

  75. Kim says:

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU!! I have been searching for a site like this with minute taking information. If there’s one thing that fills me with dread it’s the prospect of taking minutes, and I have a sneaky suspicion that soon I’ll have a job where this is a main requirement. This site has put it all into perspective and now I don’t feel too bad! Thank you so much!!

  76. Aishah says:


    Just wanna seek your views/thoughts. When we write minutes, who should we recorded under ‘In Attendance’ and ‘By Invitation’ on the Attendance list.

    Normally, i will record the Secretary of the meeting under ‘In Attendance’ and all other invitees (whether permanent or not) under ‘By Invitation’.

    Thanks in advance!! 🙂

  77. Roy Johnson says:

    Simply list those people present under PRESENT – and if people have been invited, add a list BY INVITATION. The record is thereby accurate, and nobody can object to a statement of fact.

  78. Regina Bekoe says:

    Does the recorder at a meeting write his or her name and position and the end of the minutes?

  79. Roy Johnson says:

    The recorder would normally be listed along with the other people in attendance.

  80. Carla Epperson says:

    How should you record agenda items that were not discussed nor where they deferred to the next meeting?

  81. Juriah says:

    Dear Roy,

    I am confused on how to write some matters that are still happening or existing that are discussed in minutes. Do you write them in the present tense, past tense or past perfect tense. How to minute down this, for example:

    “It was decided that the fee to be increased by ten percent as compared to the existing amount which is ten dollars”.

    Thank you.

  82. Roy Johnson says:

    The structure of your meeting notes should follow the agenda for the meeting. If discussion of an item is deferred to the next meeting, simply record the fact. Then it can be picked up when the agenda for the next meeting is prepared.

  83. Roy Johnson says:

    Use the past tense. The minutes of a meeting are a record of something that has already taken place.

  84. Adwoa says:

    pls I would like to find out where discussion or resolutions on matters arising from previous minutes would be captured in the current minutes.

  85. Roy Johnson says:

    These would normally be recorded under the head of “Matters arising”. But if they are of lesser importance than the main items, you are at the mercy of the minute taker.

  86. Lane says:

    Should draft minutes be sent to people in attendance and do they have a right to propose amendments to the draft minutes?

  87. Roy Johnson says:

    This would not be normal practice. Members of a committee would normally be able to challenge the minutes or request amendments at the next meeting. One of the first items on any agenda should be ‘Minutes of the last meeting’.

  88. gail lancaster says:

    If wording has been omitted from the signed minutes how do I show the omitted text in the next minutes

  89. Roy Johnson says:

    At the next meeting of the committee, this matter would be raised under the agenda item ‘Minutes of the previous meeting’.

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