Robert’s Rules of Order

Bob’s Rules

Simplified for Use by Councils & Boards

Basic Guidelines

  • A council’s authority is limited to formal action taken as part of an official meeting (i.e., members of councils have no individual authority) other than what is granted in the council’s organizational guidelines.

  • Meetings are facilitated by a Chair or President, often elected by the members of the council.
  • Only one person may speak at a time. Individuals should be first recognized by the Chair in order to speak. The Chair should seek to ensure equitable opportunities for all members to participate in the meeting. If the council wishes to have a less formal discussion, it may choose to have a portion of its meeting as a committee-of-the-whole.
  • A quorum (i.e., minimum number established in statute or the council’s constitution) of members must be present for the council to take any action (i.e., to vote on any motions).
  • Off-topic comments, disruptive side-bars, off-agenda discussions and personal attacks are inappropriate and the Chair may rule them out of order.


  • Only members may make, second and vote on motions. Note: the Chair may not make a motion.
  • 2 primary forms of motions

1.     Main motion or resolution

2.     Secondary or procedural motion

  • A main motion (once seconded) must be voted on (or otherwise disposed of) before another resolution can be brought before the council.
  • Once a motion is decided, it may not be brought up again at the same meeting.
  • General life cycle of a motion

1.     A member makes a motion.

2.     Another member seconds the motion; this person need not be recognized the Chair.

3.     Discussion of the motion. The Chair may not end debate as long as one or more members wish to discuss the motion.

4.     Motion is restated, either by the Chair or the recording secretary.

5.     Vote on the motion.

6.     Result of the vote is announced by the Chair.

  • Variations

1.     Motions may be withdrawn unless members object.

2.     Motions may be amended …

–    By general consent.

–    By a majority of the council.

3.     Motions may be substituted by a majority of the council.

4.     Motions may be referred to committee by a majority of the council.

5.     Motions may be postponed to later in the same meeting or to the next meeting by a majority of the council.

6.     Some procedural motions are not debatable.

–         Adjourn or recess

–         Call the question or to limit debate

–         Request for on-record vote

7.     Some motions require a two-thirds majority to pass.

–         Call the question or to limit debate

–         Suspend the rules

–         Resolutions (as determined in the council’s bylaws)