Rules of Order

Summary Version For Fair and Orderly Meetings & Conventions

Robert’s Rules of Order – Summary Version For Fair and Orderly Meetings & Conventions

Provides common rules and procedures for deliberation and debate in order to place the whole membership on the same footing and speaking the same language. The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership – the right of the deliberate majority to decide. Complementary is the right of at least a strong minority to require the majority to be deliberate – to act according to its considered judgment AFTER a full and fair “working through” of the issues involved. Robert’s Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly. Under no circumstances should “undue strictness” be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation.

The fundamental right of deliberative assemblies requires all questions to be thoroughly discussed before taking action!


The assembly rules – they have the final say on everything! Silence means consent!

  • Obtain the floor (the right to speak) by being the first to stand when the person speaking has finished; state Mr./Madam Chairman. Raising your hand means nothing, and standing while another has the floor is out of order! Must be recognized by the Chair before speaking!
  • Debate cannot begin until the Chair has stated the motion or resolution and asked “are you ready for the question?” If no one rises, the chair calls for the vote!
  • Before the motion is stated by the Chair (the question) members may suggest modification of the motion; the mover can modify as he pleases, or even withdraw the motion without consent of the seconder; if mover modifies, the seconder can withdraw the second.
  • The “immediately pending question” is the last question stated by the Chair! Motion/Resolution – Amendment – Motion to Postpone
  • The member moving the “immediately pending question” is entitled to preference to the floor!
  • No member can speak twice to the same issue until everyone else wishing to speak has spoken to it once!
  • All remarks must be directed to the Chair. Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment – avoid all personalities, never allude to others by name or to motives!
  • The agenda and all committee reports are merely recommendations! When presented to the assembly and the question is stated, debate begins and changes occur!
  • Point of Privilege: Pertains to noise, personal comfort, etc. – may interrupt only if necessary!
  • Parliamentary Inquiry: Inquire as to the correct motion – to accomplish a desired result, or raise a point of order
  • Point of Information: Generally applies to information desired from the speaker: “I should like to ask the (speaker) a question.”
  • Orders of the Day (Agenda): A call to adhere to the agenda (a deviation from the agenda requires Suspending the Rules)
  • Point of Order: Infraction of the rules, or improper decorum in speaking. Must be raised immediately after the error is made
  • Main Motion: Brings new business (the next item on the agenda) before the assembly
  • Divide the Question: Divides a motion into two or more separate motions (must be able to stand on their own)
  • Consider by Paragraph: Adoption of paper is held until all paragraphs are debated and amended and entire paper is satisfactory; after all paragraphs are considered, the entire paper is then open to amendment, and paragraphs may be further amended. Any Preamble cannot be considered until debate on the body of the paper has ceased.
  • Amend: Inserting or striking out words or paragraphs, or substituting whole paragraphs or resolutions
  • Withdraw/Modify Motion: Applies only after question is stated; mover can accept an amendment without obtaining the floor
  • Commit/Refer/Recommit to Committee: State the committee to receive the question or resolution; if no committee exists, include size of committee desired and method of selecting the members (election or appointment).
  • Extend Debate: Applies only to the immediately pending question; extends until a certain time or for a certain period of time
  • Limit Debate: Closing debate at a certain time, or limiting to a certain period of time
  • Postpone to a Certain Time: State the time the motion or agenda item will be resumed
  • Object to Consideration: Objection must be stated before discussion or another motion is stated
  • Lay on the Table: Temporarily suspends further consideration/action on pending question; may be made after motion to close debate has carried or is pending
  • Take from the Table: Resumes consideration of item previously “laid on the table” – state the motion to take from the table
  • Reconsider: Can be made only by one on the prevailing side who has changed position or view
  • Postpone Indefinitely: Kills the question/resolution for this session – exception: the motion to reconsider can be made this session
  • Previous Question: Closes debate if successful – may be moved to “Close Debate” if preferred
  • Informal Consideration: Move that the assembly go into “Committee of the Whole” – informal debate as if in committee; this committee may limit number or length of speeches or close debate by other means by a 2/3 vote. All votes, however, are formal.
  • Appeal Decision of the Chair: Appeal for the assembly to decide – must be made before other business is resumed; NOT debatable if relates to decorum, violation of rules or order of business
  • Suspend the Rules: Allows a violation of the assembly’s own rules (except Constitution); the object of the suspension must be specified
Robert's Rules of Order Motions Chart

Part 1, Main Motions.

These motions are listed in order of precedence. A motion can be introduced if it is higher on the chart than the pending motion. § indicates the section from Robert’s Rules.

§21Close meetingI move to adjournNoYesNoNoMajority
§20Take breakI move to recess for…NoYesNoYesMajority
§19Register complaintI rise to a question of privilegeYesNoNoNoNone
§18Make follow agendaI call for the orders of the dayYesNoNoNoNone
§17Lay aside temporarilyI move to lay the question on the No tableNoYesNoNoMajority
§16Close debateI move the previous questionNoYesNoNo2/3
§16Limit or extend debateI move that debate be limited to…NoYesNoYes2/3
§15Postpone to a certain timeI move to postpone the motion to…NoYesYesYesMajority
§14Refer to committeeI move to refer the motion to…NoYesYesYesMajority
§13Modify wording of motionI move to amend the motion by…NoYesYesYesMajority
§12Kill main motionI move that the motion be postponed indefinitelyNoYesYesNoMajority
§11Bring business before assembly (a main motion)I move that [or "to"]…NoYesYesYesMajority

Part 2, Incidental Motions.

No order of precedence. These motions arise incidentally and are decided immediately.

§23Enforce rulesPoint of OrderYesNoNoNoNone
§24Submit matter to assemblyI appeal from the decision of the chairYesYesVariesNoMajority
§25Suspend rulesI move to suspend the rulesNoYesNoNo2/3
§26Avoid main motion altogetherI object to the consideration of the questionYesNoNoNo2/3
§27Divide motionI move to divide the questionNoYesNoYesMajority
§29Demand a rising voteI move for a rising voteYesNoNoNoNone
§33Parliamentary law questionParliamentary inquiryYesNoNoNoNone
§33Request for informationPoint of informationYesNoNoNoNone

Part 3, Motions That Bring a Question Again Before the Assembly.

No order of precedence. Introduce only when nothing else is pending.

§34Take matter from tableI move to take from the table…NoYesNoNoMajority
§35CancelpreviousactionI move to rescind…NoYesYesYes2/3 or Majority with notice
§37Reconsider motionI move to reconsider…NoYesVariesNoMajority