Rules for Taking Minutes at a Meeting

Updated February 21, 2017

Taking minutes can be a daunting function for even the most seasoned business professional, especially if you are also an active participant in the meeting. The good news is there are ways to make minute-taking easier. By being prepared with an organised outline or template that covers the basic documentation rules, you can make the process of taking minutes less demanding.


According to an article on PTO Today, a website for parents, minutes are legal documents that capture the information discussed during a meeting. There are basic essentials you must include in these documents, such as the names of meeting attendees, the date and time the meeting takes place, the title of the meeting and the time the meeting was adjourned. Formally introduce the chairman of the meeting at the top of the minutes template.

Organizational Rules

The format of the minutes should mimic the meeting’s agenda. Discussion items listed on the agenda should guide the order of how you structure the minutes. Being organised takes preparation. To maximise your minute-taking efficiency, fill in the minutes template based on the agenda items, and leave plenty of blank space on the paper to fill in as the meeting takes place. By being prepared, you will be able to follow the conversation quickly and make smooth transitions from one item on the agenda to the next without having to pause to set up new sections.

Know What To Leave Out

You might drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with every little detail that occurs in the meeting, so, rest assured, it’s not necessary to record everything verbatim. You want to get the gist of the conversation and record the important points and decisions for each discussion or agenda item. You can always go back through your notes later and expand your summary.

Recording Devices

Choose a recording device that works for you. Taking minutes by hand, using a laptop or even taping the meeting with an electronic recorder are options you can choose from when it comes to how you wish to capture the meeting’s information. The final version of the minutes must be done on paper, because they are legal documents.

Time Frame

Don’t wait too long between when the meeting occurs and when you get around to typing up the minutes. According to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), it is best to type the minutes within two weeks. Otherwise, you risk forgetting information that could be vital for accurate documentation.

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About the Author

Kyra Sheahan has been a writer for various publications since 2008. Her work has been featured in "The Desert Leaf" and "Kentucky Doc Magazine," covering health and wellness, environmental conservatism and DIY crafts. Sheahan holds an M.B.A. with an emphasis in finance.