Minute Taking

by Clare Forrest

Structure of a set of minutes

Writing a set of minutes is not like writing a novel, where you can decide how it will be plotted and structured. Minutes use a very precise structure, because they often form part of a trail of evidence (for example, if the meeting concerns a disciplinary matter). It’s also helpful for the readers, who can focus on the content because they know how the document is structured. All this means it’s easy to write a set of minutes, because you just need to follow this template:

Structure of a set of minutes


Minutes of the Senior Management Team
Malton Racing plc

Conference Room. 1st July 201–  0930-1030

The minutes must start with:

The organisation’s name and title of the meeting, including the date, time and place. 


Jamal Sutter – Chair and Chief Executive

Jerry Frost – Finance Director
Sarah Heathcote – Operations Director
Farah Khan – Director of Human Resources
Jo Lelland – Creative Director
Wendy Lovell – IT Director
Ivan Rubin – Sales and Marketing Director
Leslie Shaw – Technical Director
Jim Smith – Racing Team Director, left after item four

Simon Grey – Minute Taker

The chair’s name must be first, and marked ‘chair’. The minute taker should be last and marked accordingly. 

Between the two, the names should be in alphabetical order of last name. If there are any officers of the meeting – such as a Treasurer – these come after the chair and before the members.

In organisations, so that readers are clear on the point of view of each meeting member and their responsibilities, it is important to indicate their position/department.

If someone leaves the meeting, you must record when they left. This is important because it indicates what decisions they took part in and, in case of ‘leaks’, what they knew.


Shirley Waddel. Racing Team Present for items 1-4           

Guests are people who are not usually members of the meeting, but were invited to attend the meeting, either as a courtesy or in their specialist capacity. 

Again, you must record which items they were present for.

If someone has come to give a presentation, you do not record their presentation. You simply note in the minutes that they gave their talk; note if any papers were left for members, and record any thanks made by the chair.

  1. Apologies

Apologies were received from:

Juliet Charles, Communications Director

Note that you now start numbering the items, following the same numbers as on the agenda.

List apologies as for those present – full name, department and so on.

This is a list for those who have been polite enough to send their apologies. It is not a catch-all list for those who haven’t turned up.

Even if there are no apologies, you must record this to show the item was dealt with.

  1. Minutes of the last meeting

Record here that the minutes were ‘agreed as a true and correct record’.

Only those present at the previous meeting can vote, of course.

If there any agreed amendments to the minutes, then record it like this, making sure you use the title and number from previous set of minutes:

Item 4 Summer Race Meeting

Amend from: It was agreed to invite the Mayor of Darlington to open the race.

Amend to: It was agreed to invite the Mayor of Dartington to open the race.

Once any/all the amendments have been agreed, you then write:

‘The minutes were then agreed as a true and correct record’.

  1. Matters arising

This is where you will need to refer to the previous set of minutes, because your numbers and titles must follow them as they were originally. If you start to use new titles/numbers, it will be impossible to follow an audit trail.

Even if items are not discussed consecutively – perhaps item six was considered before item four – they must be organised in the minutes in the correct order.

  1. New topic

The minutes should follow the agenda sequence.

Each heading should accurately reflect the corresponding item heading on the agenda, though it may be shortened. 

If the same topic is discussed at several meetings, the same heading should be used every time.

Items are written as shown in Structure of a minute.

  1. Any other business

Give each item discussed here a new number and title, continuing from the last agenda number.

  1. Date and time of next meeting

Say what time the meeting adjourned and show when it will reconvene.

Structure of a minute





The Sales Director asked the meeting to approve a decision to change printers. He stated that the current printing cost of race meeting cards for corporate clients was expected to rise in the next six months by more than 15%.

He had sourced a new print supplier, who was prepared to keep the cost at its current rates.


All introductions to items need three things:

WHO – the name, title and so on of the person raising the item (in informal minutes this might just be their initials)
WHAT – they told/proposed/suggested
WHY – this was important/needed/mattered.

Be careful. More often that not, the ‘Why’ comes during the discussion as questions are asked. Your job is to make sure that the introduction tells the complete story, even if it wasn’t said that way.



Printing costs were rising at the rate of 5 per cent a year. 

The current printers were not prepared to reduce the proposed rise.

In view of the importance of the Race Card as a public relations medium, members felt that the quality of the printing should not be compromised, even if this was to be more expensive.

A proper comparison between the printers needed to be made.


Key points only. Avoid using people’s names as much as possible.

If there are different interest groups present (for example, Trade Unions and Management), then use their group name to distinguish which side makes which points.

Members at meetings often make points which are not directly relevant to the issue under discussion. Do not use these in the minutes unless specifically asked to do so.


Decision and action

It was agreed that, before the next meeting, the Sales Director would obtain and distribute to members sample copies of race cards from the current supplier and the proposed new supplier. A final decision would be made at the next meeting.

This part always needs to state

WHO – will do the action
WHEN – it will be completed
WHAT – the action is.

Note that decisions can include to

  • Adjourn
  • Pass something on
  • Defer to next meeting
  • Take some other action.

Something that meetings often forget to do is to agree the WHO and the WHEN. If this happens then the WHO becomes ‘The Meeting’ (meaning everyone) and the WHAT becomes the next meeting (to ensure it is followed up).

Some people still use the (very old-fashioned) method of having a separate column for the initials of those who have an action. This is a waste of paper and space. Much simpler and clearer is to embolden the decision and action.


Key tip

When you are collating your notes after the meeting go through each item marking each part I (Introduction), D (Discussion) or DA (Decision and Action). This will save you time when you write the item.