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Parliamentary Procedure: Resource Guide

Resource Guide

Robert's Rules Books

Parliamentary Charts and Handouts

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Commonly Misunderstood Terms


"The term 'friendly amendment' is often used to describe an amendment offered by someone who is in sympathy with the purpose of the main motion, in the belief that the amendment will either improve the statement or effect of the motion, presumably to the satisfaction of its maker, or will increase the chance of the main motion's adoption.  Regardless of whether or not the maker of the main motion 'accepts' the amendment, it must be opened to debate and voted on formally (unless adopted by unanimous consent) and is handled under the same rules as amendments generally." RONR (12th ed.) 12:91

The correct parliamentary procedure is to move to Amend, to modify the wording, of a pending motion before the pending motions is acted upon.


"A motion such as 'I call for [or "call"] the question,' 'I demand the previous question,' 'I move to close [or "end"] debate,' or 'I move we vote now' is simply a motion for the Previous Question made in nonstandard form...." RONR (12th ed.) 16:6

"...regardless of the wording of a motion or 'call' seeking to close debate, it always requires a second and a two-thirds vote, taken separately from and before the vote(s) on the motion(s) to which it is applied, to shut off the debate against the will of even one member who wishes to speak and has nor exhausted his right to debate."  RONR (12th ed.) 16:7

Robert's Rules uses the motion Previous Question to immediately end debate on the pending question/motion.


"The motion to Lay on the Table enables the assembly to lay the pending question aside temporarily when something else of immediate urgency has arisen or when something else needs to be addressed before consideration of the pending question is resumes...."  RONR (12th ed.) 17:1

"This motion is commonly misused in ordinary assemblies--in place of the motion to Postpone Indefinitely (11), to Postpone to a Certain Time (14), or other motions.  Particularly in such misuses, it also is know as a motion 'to table'." RONR (12th ed.) 17:1-2

The correct parliamentary procedure to put off discussion of a motion to a later meeting is to Postpone it to that later meeting.  Rarely should the motion to Lay on the Table be used.  

Questions and Suggestions

If you have parliamentary procedure questions or suggestions for information you would like to see on this page, please contact Greg Sauer at