Writing Minutes: 6 Ways & 9 Tips For Taking Notes (+ template)

At a team meeting in the office, a seminar at the university, or in class, there are many situations in which minutes are being written. We present different types and give tips that will make writing particularly easy for you. You will know about writing minutes in 6 ways & 9 tips for taking notes (+ template)

Writing minutes is a task that most people like to avoid. If you have to take minutes of a meeting or the course of a meeting, it means: absolute concentration. You shouldn’t wallow in thought during the conversation and should take some notes. Basically, writing the log is not as bad as its reputation. In the following, we will give you tips that will help you quickly and easily create a good protocol.

Protocol: There are these types

There are these types of logs

There are many good reasons for writing logs. At important meetings and team meetings, well-written minutes provide a comprehensive summary of the decisions made. In this way, those involved can check individual points retrospectively and obtain information if they have forgotten something.

In addition, employees who did not take part in the meeting are kept up to date with the help of a protocol . Oral transmission of the events is usually incomplete and takes too long. Even if there are discrepancies after a meeting, the protocol is used. It precisely states what was decided by whom.

But a protocol is not just a protocol. Because there are many different types. Most often you will be dealing with two types, namely the  results log and the progress log. In addition, there are also hourly protocols, experimental protocols, verbatim protocols and memory protocols, among other things. The type of log depends on what is recorded in it. In general, when writing a protocol, you should make sure to include only important information and leave out what is superfluous.

Results protocol

As the name suggests, you only record the results of a conversation or a team meeting in a results log. The result log is very compact and can be read more quickly than a progress log. In this document, everyone involved can understand which decisions were made in a meeting and which tasks were assigned. If several decisions are to be made in a conference or discussion, the minutes of the results are a good choice.

History log / conversation log

You record individual speeches in a progress or conversation log

In a progress log, you concentrate on the course of the conversation and any decisions made. So you refer to different speeches in the minutes, record discussions and highlight arguments and counter-arguments. This type of protocol is useful if results are to be achieved through discussions during a meeting. On the basis of the speeches, all those involved can understand the decisions at a later point in time.

Verbatim protocol

Basically, this is also a progress log, but if possible you should reproduce the entire wording of a meeting . This type of logging is particularly popular in court hearings. After all, in a situation like this, every detail counts. When creating verbatim transcripts, it is imperative that you adhere to all common citation rules.

Hour protocol

Create hourly protocol

You come across this type of protocol at school or university. It is a mixture of results log and progress log . In a lesson protocol you record what is discussed in a school lesson or a seminar at the university and what new knowledge is gained.

Test protocol

Test protocols are always linked to scientific experiments . In it you document the implementation of an experiment, your observations and, if necessary, the results. So, in research, these protocols are very important so that other scientists can understand the experiment and check the knowledge gained from it.

In an experimental protocol, you first state the subject of the experiment and make an initial guess as to what result the experiment will bring. It is also important that you describe the materials used and precisely document the structure and implementation of the experiment. Furthermore, you record observations, for example measured values, and also include an evaluation of the results in the protocol. If you make mistakes during the experiment, you also have the option of carrying out a written error analysis in the protocol .

Memory log

This type of protocol is rarely used because it is not very reliable . As the name suggests, with a memory protocol you reconstruct the course of a meeting from your memory. This is not a chronological transcript, but a retrospective summary of content and decisions.

Write tips for the minutes

Write tips for the minutes

A transcript records important information from discussions, team meetings or seminars. In order for everyone involved to benefit from a protocol afterwards, you have to pay attention to a few things when preparing it. It is important that you work carefully and be focused on what you are doing . Otherwise you will get stressed, quickly lose track and feel overwhelmed. In the following we have put together valuable tips to make it easier for you to write the minutes.

Create a template

You will make your work a lot easier if you create a template for your minutes before the start of the meeting. In it you enter all the information you know . If you save the template, you have the option to use it again the next time or to pass it on to your colleagues. They will surely be grateful to you.

Separate the important from the unimportant

Even during the transcript, you should make sure that only relevant information is included in your protocol. It doesn’t matter what kind of protocol you write. If you are unsure whether information is important or not, record it in the log. In no case do you have to write down everything that is said word for word. That wouldn’t even be possible. In between, make it clear to yourself what the goal of the meeting is and whether you have recorded all the important information in relation to it.

Write in bullet points

Keywords are helpful

So that you don’t lose the thread and keep up, it makes sense to log in key words. It would take too long to write whole sentences . Make sure, however, to formulate the key words in such a way that you still know what the conversation was about when drafting the minutes.

Use abbreviations

You save a lot of time if you abbreviate long words. Think in advance what a meeting or conversation will be about. There may be words that keep coming up and for which you can think of an abbreviation. When writing minutes, it is very important to save as much time as possible . If you write out every single word, you will most likely not keep up with a heated discussion.

Ask if anything is unclear

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

If a term comes up during the discussion that is unclear to you or if you do not even understand the whole context, you must definitely ask. Shyness is out of place here. You can’t feel uncomfortable asking questions. In order for the minutes to contain all the important information, it is of crucial importance that the minute-taker can follow the conversation without any problems .

Stay objective

If you do not agree with certain aspects of the conversation or decisions that are made in a meeting, you can express your concerns aloud, but you must not quietly record them in the minutes. As a recorder, it is your job to report objectively about the events and, if necessary, to record the results without comment .

If you express your discomfort out loud and your opinion is part of the discussion in the following, you will of course include it in the minutes. Incidentally, emotional reactions to decisions made by participants in the meeting have just as little place in the minutes as the subjective opinions of the person taking the minutes.

Avoid misunderstandings

After the discussion has ended, it makes sense to find out from the discussion leader again whether you have recorded the result correctly. In this way you avoid misunderstandings and can clear up any ambiguities.

Use a laptop

If possible, log on the laptop

It is always a good idea to keep the log on a laptop. So you are flexible and have the opportunity to add points afterwards if the conversation turns unexpectedly. If you write on paper, the page may already be filled and you lose track.

If you still prefer to use pen and paper, you should always leave enough space between individual points. This gives you the opportunity to make additions at a later date .

Complete the protocol as soon as possible

When the meeting is over, your work as a note taker is not done yet. Now it is time to revise the notes and finalize the protocol. If possible, you should n’t delay doing this . If you start the revision right away, you will still remember exactly what was said. This will make it easier for you to formulate the protocol.

This information belongs in the log

There is some information that should not be missing from any log. First and foremost, this includes, of course, all the important key data for the relevant meeting, conversation or seminar. It is best to place this right at the top of the page, in the so-called protocol header. This includes the following information:

  • Date of the meeting
  • Place of meeting
  • People present
  • Name of the secretary
  • theme

You have now successfully written down the formalities of the protocol. Then, depending on the type of minutes, you go into individual discussion points, record comments, decisions and open questions. If there are plans for further action, these should also be included in your protocol. The protocol closes with your signature . Ideally, you will also ask the chairperson of the meeting for his or her signature. If there are attachments , such as handouts or the like, attach them to the protocol.

Writing Minutes: 6 Ways & 9 Tips For Taking Notes (+ template)

Sample of a report of results

You record the most important decisions in the result protocol

As the name suggests, you record the results, key messages and most important decisions of an event in a result protocol. A good strategy is to sort individual aspects according to general terms during the conversation . Then you have less work to do later and you can immediately see which points are important. If there is a match between statements from different participants, you summarize them. You don’t even need to write down digressions and unnecessary statements. That saves you a lot of work afterwards.

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You should refrain from a chronological reproduction of the events in a result protocol. Write the minutes in the present tense and give individual aspects in note form in a logical order . You start the results protocol with a protocol header. If there is a schedule, add it afterwards. Then you record the results of the meeting in a factual and objective tone. The protocol closes with your signature. You can also make a table for a better overview. If necessary, you add attachments. In the following we present you two samples of result logs:

Employee interview on xx.xx.xxxx

  • theme
  • place
  • Attendees
  • management
  • Name of the secretary
  • Investments

Planned process: point 1, point 2, 3

1. One point:

  • Decisions:
  • Proceed further:
  • Responsibility:
  • Time schedule:

2. Two point:

  • Decisions:
  • Proceed further:
  • Responsibility:
  • Time schedule:

3. Point 3:

  • Decisions:
  • Proceed further:
  • Responsibility:
  • Time schedule:


Alternatively, you can also display the individual points of the session in a table . So every participant can see immediately what has been decided. You put the protocol header in front of the table and put your signature under it. Such a table looks like this, for example:

 Point 1Point 2point 3
Proceed further
Time schedule

Submission of a progress log

Template for a progress log

You record the course of a meeting or a discussion with the individual speeches in a log. Nevertheless, in this case too you have to limit yourself to the most important points, otherwise the protocol will be far too long. The difference to the result protocol is that you respond to the individual speeches of those present, provided that they are relevant to the goal of the meeting.

When logging, you must not ignore the time recording . So it does play a role who said what when. You write the progress protocol in the present tense and reproduce speeches in the indirect speech.

Like all other logs, you start the progress log with a log header . This contains the key dates of the meeting. Pre- determined agenda items follow , if they exist. In the further course you will record the resolutions and how they came about. At the end you sign the protocol and add any attachments. A history log could look like this:

Employee interview on xx.xx.xxxx

  • place
  • Attendees
  • management
  • Name of the secretary
  • Agenda: 1st; 2.; 3.

Agenda item 1:

  • Description of the current situation of X
  • Inquiries from Y
  • Suggestion from Z
  • poll
  • decision

Agenda item 2:

  • Description of the situation of X
  • Suggestion from Y
  • Pro of Z
  • Contra of X
  • poll
  • decision

Agenda item 3:

  • Topics for the next session
  • date proposed