These Lesson Outlines are designed to assist clubs and individual students who wish to study Robert's Rules of Order Revised. The Manual is not arranged primarily with a view to study, but for the special object of providing a set of rules for adoption by city councils, corporations, literary societies, clubs, assemblies, and occasional meetings. In studying it the preferable way is to learn the few elementary things that one must know in order to take the slightest part in a deliberative meeting and then to learn how with ease to use this Manual to find the correct ruling or decision on any point that may arise. When one has accomplished this, which is covered by the first four lessons outlines below he is prepared to study in detail any portion of the Manual, and in any order that may suit him.

In these Lesson Outlines the four introductory lessons are followed by the all-important subject of Amendments, to which an entire lesson is given. This lesson should be thoroughly mastered, as the subject of amendments is probably equal in difficulty and importance to all the rest of parliamentary law.

After Amendments, the order of the subjects in the Manual is followed in the Lesson Outlines with the following exceptions: Incidental Motions are not taken up until all the other motions are disposed of; the Orders of the Day are treated in connection with the motions to Postpone Definitely and Indefinitely, because they are so intimately connected, the Orders of the Day being made by postponing to a certain time or by adopting a program; the subject of Committees is treated in connection with the motion to Commit; and to Take from the Table is treated in connection with to Lay on the Table.

The Rules of Order is essentially a work of reference, and the student should keep this in view. He should aim at learning how to find a ruling quickly, rather than at remembering the ruling. On this account each student should always have his copy of the book with him at every meeting and familiarize himself with its use. Efficiency, however, as a parliamentarian is acquired only by practice. "Book knowledge" is valuable just as with games and athletics, but just as no amount of theoretical knowledge without practice will enable a man to excel in playing chess or in swimming, so no amount of theoretical knowledge of parliamentary law without practice will make a man a good practical parliamentarian.

If the student has the advantage of being a member of a class, the teacher will, doubtless, use parliamentary drills. If he has no teacher, he should study the Manual as laid down in the Lesson Outlines, and try to interest others to join him in forming a practice club. This practice club should hold frequent meetings, thus giving an opportunity for putting into practice what has been learned. The officers should be constantly changed so as to give different members the opportunity to preside.

These practice meetings should begin at least as soon as the students have learned what is covered by the first four lessons as outlined further on. At the beginning of each meeting it would be profitable to call for criticisms of the previous meeting. This would encourage the members after each meeting to investigate all doubtful mistakes that otherwise would be overlooked.

What has just been said in reference to the importance of practice meetings or drills in parliamentary law applies equally to clubs or societies, as only a few of the simplest rules are usually called for in an ordinary meeting. When the club cannot have a suitable teacher, it can carry on the work by electing a member to take charge of the parliamentary drills. This leader should study the course so as to be able to take the place of a teacher.

It will probably be best in all cases to follow the order of the first four lessons, and perhaps the fifth also. But where the time for the meeting is short, it may be advisable to increase the number of lessons. After the fifth lesson circumstances may make it advisable to select only a few out of the remaining lessons and omit the others, or to divide some of the lessons. The outlines as given will serve as a basis for a scheme of lessons adapted to the special conditions in each case.

All through the course there should constantly be drills with open books, to enable the students to acquire facility in referring to a desired point, since, as previously stated, this Manual is a work of reference.


I. Organizing and Conducting Business in Mass Meetings and Permanent Societies.

Organization 69(a)
Offering, Amending, and Adopting Resolutions 69(b)
Committee on Resolutions 69(c)
Permanent Society, 1st Meeting 70(a)
Permanent Society, 2nd Meeting 70(b)
Permanent Society, Regular Meeting 70(c)
Obtaining the Floor, etc. 1-3
Preparing, Making, and Seconding Motions and Resolutions 4-6

II. Debate, Stating and Putting Questions, and What Motions to Use to Accomplish Certain Objects.

Stating the Question 6
Debate 7
Secondary Motions 8
Putting the Question and Announcing the Vote 9
What Motions to Use to Accomplish Certain Object 10

[The form of making each of these motions should be explained by the leader or teacher.]

III. How to Find if a Motion is in Order, if it can be Debated, Amended, or Reconsidered, and if it Requires a Second, or a 2/3 Vote, etc.

Order of Precedence of Motions OPM
Table of Rules Relating to Motions TRM

[The Order of Precedence of Motions, should be memorized, and the student should be able by reference to the Table of Rules to find quickly the ruling on any of the 300 questions decided by it.]

IV. Definitions, and How to Find Rulings in the Manual.

Plan of the Manual WRK
Definitions DEF
Plan of the Index NDX

Practice in the Use of the Entire Manual for finding Rulings or Decisions.

V. Amendments.

Amend 33
Inserting or adding, striking out, and striking out and inserting words 33:4-6
Amendments affecting an entire paragraph 33:7-9
Improper Amendments 33:10-11
Motions that cannot be Amended 33:12
Amending Minutes 33:13
Filling Blanks 33:14-19

VI. Classification of Motions and Most of the Privileged Ones.

Main Motions 11
Subsidiary Motions 12
Incidental Motions 13
Privileged Motions 14
Certain Other Motions 15
Fix the Time to which to Adjourn 16
Adjourn 17
Take a Recess 18
Questions of Privilege 19

VII. Orders of the Day, and Definite and Indefinite Postponement.

Postpone Indefinitely 34
Postpone Definitely or to a Certain Time 31
Call for the Orders of the Day 20:1-4
General and Special Orders 20:5-13

VIII. Laying Aside a Question Temporarily, Resuming its Consideration, and Closing and Limiting Debate

Lay on the Table 28
Take from the Table 35
Previous Question 29
Limit or Extend Limits of Debate 30

IX. The Motion to Commit, and Committees.

Commit 32
Special and Standing Committees 52
Form of their Reports 52:5-6
Form of Minority Report 52:7

X. Committees (Concluded).

Reception of Committees' Reports 53
Adoption of Committees' Reports 54
Committee of the Whole 55
As if in Committee of the Whole 56
Informal Consideration 57
Committees Classified 49
Boards of Managers, etc., and Executive Committees 50
Ex-Officio Members of Boards and Committees 51

XI. Reconsidering and Rescinding a Vote.

Reconsider 36:1-12
Reconsider and Enter on the Minutes 36:13-21
Rescind 37

XII. Some Miscellaneous and Incidental Motions.

Renew 38
Ratify 39
Dilatory and Absurd Motions 40
Incidental Motions 13
Questions of Order 21:1-3
Appeal 21:4-6
Suspension of the Rules 22

XIII. Incidental Motions (Concluded).

Objection to the Consideration of a Question 23
Division of a Question 24:1-3
Consideration by Paragraph or Seriatim 24:4-5
Division of the Assembly and Other Motions relating to Voting and the Polls 25
Motions relating to Methods of Making and to Closing and to reopening Nominations 26
Parliamentary Inquiry 27(a)
Request for Information 27(b)
To Withdraw or Modify a Motion 27(c)
To Read Papers 27(d)
To be Excused from a Duty 27(e)
Request for any other Privilege 27(f)

XIV. Debate.

Debate 7,42
Decorum in Debate 43
Closing and Preventing Debate 44
Principles of Debate 45:1-8
Motions that Open the Main Question to Debate 45:9
Undebatable Motions 45:10

XV. Voting.

Voting 46
Announcing the Vote 46:6
Voting by Ballot 46:11-16
Voting by Yeas and Nays 46:17
General Consent 46:18
Voting by Mail 46:19
Voting by Proxy 46:20
Votes that are Null and Void even if Unanimous 47
Motions requiring More than a Majority Vote 48

XVI. The Officers and the Minutes.

Chairman or President 58:1-13
Hints to Inexperienced Chairmen 58:14-20
Secretary or Clerk 59:1-2
Corresponding Secretary 59:3
The Minutes 60
Executive Secretary 61
Treasurer 62

XVII. Nominations and Elections, and Miscellaneous

Session 63
Meeting 63:1-3
Quorum 64
Order of Business 65
Nominations and Elections 66

[As the officers are usually elected by ballot that method of voting [46:11-16] should be reviewed in connection with this lesson. The incidental motions relating to the methods of making nominations and taking the vote and of closing and reopening nominations and the polls [25,26] should also be reviewed in connection with this lesson.]

XVIII. Rules of an Assembly and their Amendments.

Constitutions 67:1-4
By-laws 67:5-6
Rules of Order 67:7
Standing Rules and their Amendment 67:8
Amendment of Constitutions 68
Amending a Proposed Amendment to the Constitution, etc 68:4
Review Use of Tables OPM
Review Index NDX

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