Resources for
Chapter and




History and


Chapter and

Duties and

Policies and


and Journal

Awards and

and Elections

Organizational Support

and Links

CEU Information



Group Activities

Leadership Notes

Communication Notes

Ethics Notes

Diversity Notes

Coaching Skills




Send E-Mail To
Michael Lebeau
Chapter and


















Parliamentary law is simple in principle. It is based on mere common sense and courtesy. It seems technical because it has been necessary to develop a special vocabulary for discussing it.  If one knows the vocabulary, the rules come easily.


The purpose of parliamentary law is to enable an assembly to transact business with speed and efficiency, to protect the rights of each individual, and to preserve a spirit of harmony within the group.


To achieve these purposes, always consider the five basic principles of parliamentary procedure:


1) Only on subject may claim the attention of the assembly at one time.


2) Each proposition presented for consideration is entitled to full and free debate.


3) Every member has rights equal to every other member.


4) The will of the majority must be carried out, and the right to the minority must be preserved.


5) The personality and desires of each member should be merged into the larger unit of the organization.





Call to Order:

"Will the meeting please come to order?"


Reading and approval of the minutes: 

"Are there any correction to the minutes?"

"There being no corrections, the minutes will stand approved as read."

"Are there any further corrections to the Minutes?"

"There being no further corrections, the minutes will stand approved and corrected."


Reports of officers and standing committees:

Officers, boards, or standing committees should be called upon in which they are mentioned in the constitution or bylaws of the organization.


Reports of special committees:

Special committees should be called upon in which they are mentioned in the constitution or bylaws of the organization.


Unfinished business:

"We come now to unfinished business. Is there any unfinished business to come before the meeting?"


New Business:

"Is there any new business to come before the meeting?"



Unqualified forms: Proposer moves for adjournment; motion is seconded; chairman calls for a vote; action depends upon majority vote. This motion can not be discussed.


Quality forms: Proposer moves for an adjournment within a definite time or adjournment to meet again at a specified time; motion is seconded; chairman calls for a discussion; a vote is taken; action depends upon majority vote.




A member rises and addresses the presiding officer. The member is recognized by the presiding officer. Having received formal recognition from the chairperson, a member is said to "Have the floor" and is the only member entitled to present or discuss a motion.


The member proposes a motion. A motion is always introduced in the form, "I move that" followed by the statement of the proposal. This is the only correct phraseology.


Aside from the brief explanatory remarks, it is not permissible to discuss the merits of the motion either prior to, or immediately following, the formal proposal of the motion. The discussion must wait until after the chairperson has stated the motion to the assembly and has called for discussion.


Another member seconds the motion. Another member without rising or addressing the chairperson, may say, "I second the motion." Seconding a motion is merely an indication that the member seconding it wishes the matter to become the assembly for consideration.


The presiding officer states the motion to the assembly. When a motion has been properly proposed and seconded, the chairperson repeats the motion to the assembly, or "States the motion." After it has been formally stated to the assembly, it may be spoken of as a "question," a "proposition," or a "measure."


The assembly discusses or debates the motion. After the motion has been formally stated by the chairperson, any member has the right to discuss it. He must obtain he floor in the same manner as when presenting a motion.


Normally the first person who has recognition is entitled to speak, but when several members wish to speak or present motions at the same time, certain guiding principles should determine the decision of the chairperson. The chairperson should always show preference to the proposer of the motion. A member who has not spoken has prior claim over one who has already discussed the question, or who has proposed another motion. Discussion must be confined to the question that is "Before the House."


The presiding officer takes the vote on the motion. When all members who desire to discuss the question as done so, the chairperson "Put the motion to a vote." He may, before taking the vote, inquire, "Is there any further discussion?" Or "Are you ready for the question?" If no one rises, the chairperson presumes discussion is closed. He will proceed to take the vote by announcing "All in favor of the motion (State the Motion) say ‘Aye’." Following response from the assembly, the chairperson then says "Those opposed say ‘No’."  The chairperson may, instead, choose to have the members rise to be counted or simply call for a show of hands. Certain motions may be voted on by ballot.


The presiding officer announces the results of the vote. The chairperson formally announces the result of the vote, saying: "The motion is carried; therefore (State the intent of the motion)." If a majority voted in the negative, "The motion is lost" as so the vote has been announced by the chairperson, another motion is in order.




Amend: To change a motion either by adding to it, taking from it, or by altering it in some other way.


Chair: The chairperson. "Addressing the chair" means speaking to the chairperson or president.  Being "recognized by the chair" means being given permission to speak further.


Power of Chair: The chairperson has the following authority: He or she may decide in what order speakers shall be recognized. He or she may refuse to recognize members offering dilatory, absurd or frivolous motions or motions intended, in his judgment, to obstruct business. He or she may restrain speakers within the limits of the rules. He or she may enforce good decorum. He or she may appoint committees. He or she may decide points of order. He or she may vote in cases where his or her vote may change the result as in to make or break a tie. He or she should avoid influencing a vote by his or her own comment on a motion under consideration.


Commit:  To refer to a committee.


Committee of the Whole: Sometimes certain matters come up which can be properly studied and digested only as a committee would go into them, but which, because of their importance, should be considered by all members, and therefore should not be referred to a small committee. Then the meeting, on motion duty made, may "resolve itself into a committee of the whole." This means that the meeting officially is discontinued while everyone remains and becomes of a larger special committee including everyone present. The chairman of the regular meeting does not preside over a committee of the whole; a special chairman is appointed.


Debate: Discussion or argument over a motion.


Floor: The privilege of speaking before the assembly. Thus, when one "obtains the floor," he or she is granted an opportunity to speak.


Motion: A formal proposal to a meeting that it take certain action. A motion is a "motion" when stated by its proponent and until repeated by the chairman when presented by him for acceptance or rejection, at which time it becomes a "question," a "proposition," or a "measure."


Order:  When this term is applied to an act of an assembly it means an expression of a will of the assembly in the form of a command. An "order" differs from a "resolution" in that the latter is not a command, but a declaration of fact or an expression of opinion or purpose.


Order, General: "Making a general order" is setting a future time for the discussion of a special matter. Making a general order differs form making a special order in that the former does not involve the breaking of any rules.


Order of the Day: Regular order or program of business. A motion "calling for the orders of the day" is a motion demanding that the present discussion be dropped and that the chairman announce the next matter to be taken up in accordance with the organization’s customary and established business routine.


Order, Special: "Making a special order" is setting aside all rules for the consideration of some important question at a future time.


Postponement, Indefinite: This term is clear in the ordinary meaning of the words included in it except that the object of indefinite postponement is not merely to postpone, but, in effect, to reject.


Privilege:  The term "privilege" in parliamentary law has a restricted meaning and refers specifically to the privileges or rights of the meeting or those attending chiefly in connection with matters of physical comfort; such as inability to hear a speaker, the heating, lighting and ventilation of the meeting room, noises and other disturbances, etc., and the ineligibility or misconduct of a member in a meeting at the time. These "questions of privilege" should not be confused with "privileged motions." Questions of privilege may be involved in motions, but privileged motions include other matters.


Question: The question in Parliamentary law is the proposition or motion after it has been placed before the meeting for action by the chairman. To "move the previous question" is to demand that the chairman take a vote on a motion which is being discussed. A question, "when adopted becomes an "order," "resolution," or "vote."


Refer: To refer to a committee.


Resolution: The act of an assembly, the purpose of which is to declare facts or express opinions or purposes, and not command.


Rules, Suspension of: "When the assembly wishes to do something that cannot be done without violating its own rules, and yet is not in conflict with its constitution or by-laws, or with the fundamental principals of parliamentary law, it ‘suspends the rules that interfere with’ the proposed action."


Second: A motion in order to be considered by the meeting, must have a "second," i.e., a sponsor in the form of a second member who indicates that he will support the motion by saying "I second the motion."


Table: The "Table" in parliamentary law is literally the speaker’s table, but to "lay on the table" or "to table" a motion means to delay action on it.




Official Robert's Rules of Order

Robert's Rules of Order Summary
Robert's Rules of Order Frequently Asked Questions
Rules on Line
Robert's Rules Tips