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How to Format Formal Minutes

by Marilyn Lindblad

Meetings can consume significant time and resources in a business environment. To make the most of the company's investment in meetings, a meeting organizer may invite only employees whose attendance is critical, and she may distribute an agenda in advance to help attendees focus on the subject matter. Afterwards, formal meeting minutes help document what was accomplished during the meeting.

Details

According to Robert's Rules of Order, an organizational style manual, certain details should be included in every set of formal meeting minutes. The name of the organization and the department or committee that held the meeting should be included in the title of the minutes. Following the title, the minutes should set out such details as the date and time of the meeting and where it was held. Information about who attended the meeting is also noted, including names of voting members, officers and guests who were present.

Approving Prior Minutes

Formal meeting minutes must be approved and adopted by the group. A designated group member, usually the secretary, reads the minutes. The group leader asks if there are corrections or amendments to the minutes. If there are no corrections, a member of the group makes a motion to adopt the minutes, another member of the group seconds the motion, and the voting members of the group vote to approve the minutes. Formal minutes are often distributed to the group ahead of time so members have a chance to review them and prepare any requests for amendment in advance of the meeting.

Official Business

Minutes record the official business the organization conducts at a meeting. The business conducted varies depending on the type and purpose of the group. At meetings, a group member who was assigned a task at a previous meeting may report on the progress made toward accomplishing the task, and another group member may be assigned a new task. Meeting attendees may also make motions that the group votes on. Formal meeting minutes include a record of reports presented during the meeting, including who presented a report and what information was reported, and motions made during the meeting, including who made the motion, the substance of the motion and the results of a vote on the motion.

Formatting

Each organization establishes its own technical formatting requirements, if any, that it requires for meeting minutes. If an organization publishes a style guide that dictates such details as page margins, fonts and text alignment, the meeting minutes should follow the format of the style guide. Otherwise, notes should be organized with bold-font or underlined headings to make them easy to read and understand. Proofread the minutes to identify and correct any spelling, typographical and grammatical errors.

About the Author

Marilyn Lindblad practices law on the west coast of the United States. She has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on various websites. Lindblad received her Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School.

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