Robert's Rules of Order

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Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies  (1876) 
by Henry M. Robert

Robert's Rules of Order is the informal short title of a book containing rules of order intended to be adopted for use by a deliberative assembly. Excerpted from Robert's Rules of Order on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


There appears to be much needed a work on parliamentary law, based, in its general principles, upon the rules and practice of Congress, and adapted, in its details, to the use of ordinary societies. Such a work should give, not only the methods of organizing and conducting the meetings, the duties of the officers and the names of the ordinary motions, but in addition, should state in a systematic manner, in reference to each motion, its object and effect; whether it can be amended or debated; if debatable, the extent to which it opens the main question to debate; the circumstances under which it can be made, and what other motions can be made while it is pending. This Manual has been prepared with a view to supplying the above information in a condensed and systematic manner, each rule being either complete in itself, or giving references to every section that in any way qualifies it, so that a stranger to the work can refer to any special subject with safety.

To aid in quickly referring to as many as possible of the rules relating to each motion, there is placed immediately before the Index, a Table of Rules, which enables one, without turning a page, to find the answers to some two hundred questions. The Table of Rules is so arranged as to greatly assist the reader in systematizing his knowledge of parliamentary law.

The second part is a simple explanation of the common methods of conducting business in ordinary meetings, in which the motions are classified according to their uses, and those used for a similar purpose compared together. This part is expressly intended for that large class of the community, who are unfamiliar with parliamentary usages and are unwilling to devote much study to the subject, but would be glad with little labor to learn enough to enable them to take part in meetings of deliberative assemblies without fear of being out of order. The object of Rules of Order in deliberative assemblies, is to assist an assembly to accomplish the work for which it was designed, in the best possible manner. To do this, it is necessary to somewhat restrain the individual, as the right of an individual in any community to do what he pleases, is incompatible with the best interests of the whole. Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty. Experience has shown the importance of definiteness in the law; and in this country, where customs are so slightly established and the published manuals of parliamentary practice so conflicting, no society should attempt to conduct business without having adopted some work upon the subject, as the authority in all cases not covered by their own rules.

It has been well said by one of the greatest of English writers on parliamentary law: "Whether these forms be in all cases the most rational or not is really not of so great importance. It is much more material that there should be a rule to go by, than what that rule is, that there may be a uniformity of proceeding in business, not subject to the caprice of the chairman, or captiousness of the members. It is very material that order, decency and regularity be preserved in a dignified public body."

H. M. R.
December, 1875.


Parliamentary Law

Plan of the Work


Part I. — Rules of Order.[edit]

A compendium of parliamentary law, based upon the rules and practice of Congress.

Article I — Introduction of Business.

1. How introduced
2. Obtaining the floor
3. What precedes debates on a question
4. What motions to be in writing, and how they shall be divided
5. Modification of a motion by the mover

Article II — General Classification of Motions.

6. Principal or Main motions
7. Subsidiary or Secondary motions
8. Incidental motions
9. Privileged motions

Article III — Motions and their Order of Precedence.

Privileged Motions.
10. To fix the time to which to adjourn
11. Adjourn
12. Questions of privilege
13. Orders of the day
Incidental Motions.
14. Appeal (Questions of Order)
15. Objection to the consideration of a question
16. Reading papers
17. Withdrawal of a motion
18. Suspension of the Rules
Subsidiary Motions.
19. Lie on the table
20. Previous Question
21. Postpone to a certain day
22. Commit (or Re-commit)
23. Amend
24. Postpone indefinitely
Miscellaneous Motions.
25. Filling blanks, and Nominations
26. Renewal of a motion
27. Reconsideration

Article IV — Committees and Informal Action.

28. Committees
29. Forms of Reports of Committees
30. Reception of Reports
31. Adoption of Reports
32: Committee of the Whole
33. Informal consideration of a question

Article V — Debate and Decorum.

34. Debate
35. Undebatable questions and those opening the main question to debate
36. Decorum in debate
37. Closing debate, methods of

Article VI — Vote.

38. Voting, various modes of
39. Motions requiring more than a majority vote

Article VII — Officers and the Minutes.

40. Chairman or President
41. Clerk, or Secretary, and the Minutes

Article VIII — Miscellaneous.

42. Session
43. Quorum
44. Order of business
45. Amendment of the Rules of Order

Part II. — Organization and Conduct of Business.[edit]

A simple explanation of the methods of organizing and conducting the business of societies, conventions, and other deliberative assemblies.

Article IX — Organization and Meetings.

46. An Occasional or Mass Meeting.
(a) Organization
(b) Adoption of resolutions
(c) Committee on resolutions
(d) Additional Officers
47. A Convention or Assembly of Delegates
48. A Permanent Society.
(a) First meeting
(b) Second meeting
49. Constitutions, By-Laws, Rules of Order and Standing Rules

Article X — Officers and Committees.

50. President or Chairman
51. Secretary, or Clerk, and the Minutes
52. Treasurer
53. Committees

Article XI — Introduction of Business.

54. Introduction of Business

Article XII — Motions.

55. Motions classified according to their object
56. To Amend or modify.
(a) Amend
(b) Commit
57. To Defer action.
(a) Postpone to a certain time
(b) Lie on the table
58. To Suppress Debate.
(a) Previous Question
(b) An Order limiting or closing debate
59. To Suppress the question.
(a) Objection to its consideration
(b) Postpone indefinitely
(c) Lie on the table
60. To Consider a question the second time.
(a) Reconsider
61. Orders and Rules.
(a) Orders of the day
(b) Special orders
(c) Suspension of the rules
(d) Questions of order
(e) Appeal
62. Miscellaneous.
(a) Reading of papers
(b) Withdrawal of a motion
(c) Questions of Privilege
63. To close a meeting.
(a) To fix the time to which to adjourn
(b) Adjourn
64. Order of Precedence of motions

Article XIII — Debate.

65. Rules of speaking in debate
66. Undebatable questions and those that open the main question to debate

Article XIV — Miscellaneous

67. Forms of stating and putting questions
68. Motions requiring a two-thirds vote for their adoption
69. Unfinished business
70. Session
71. Quorum
72. Order of Business
73. Amendment of Constitutions, By-Laws, and Rules of Order

Additional Content[edit]

Legal Rights of Deliberative Assemblies

Table of Rules Relating to Motions