Robert's Rules of Order

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Robert's Rules of Order
RONR11 Cover.jpg
Cover of 2011 (11th) edition
Publisher Da Capo Press
Publication date
Pages 669
ISBN 978-0-306-82020-5
OCLC 45286870
060.4/2 22
LC Class JF515 .R692 2000

Robert's Rules of Order is the short title of a book, written by Brig. Gen. Henry Martyn Robert, containing rules of order intended to be adopted as a parliamentary authority for use by a deliberative assembly.

Currently in its eleventh edition and published under the name Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (and often referred to using the initialism RONR), it is a widely[1] used parliamentary authority in the English-speaking world.

History and origins[edit]

Cover of the original 1876 edition

The first edition of the book, whose full title was Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies, was published in February 1876 by then U.S. Army Colonel Henry Martyn Robert (1837–1923) with the short title Robert's Rules of Order placed on its cover.

The procedures prescribed by the book were loosely modeled after those used in the United States House of Representatives, with such adaptations as Robert saw fit for use in ordinary societies. The author's interest in parliamentary procedure began in 1863 when he was chosen to preside over a church meeting and, although he accepted the task, felt that he did not have the necessary knowledge of proper procedure.

In his later work as an active member of several organizations, Robert discovered that members from different areas of the country had very different views regarding what the proper parliamentary rules were, and these conflicting views hampered the organizations in their work. He eventually became convinced of the need for a new manual on the subject, one which would enable many organizations to adopt the same set of rules.


The book is designed for use in ordinary societies rather than legislative assemblies, and it is the most commonly adopted parliamentary authority among societies in the United States.[2] The book claims to be a "codification of the present-day general parliamentary law (omitting provisions having no application outside legislative bodies)".[3] This statement does not imply any approbation on the part of the courts, and the "general parliamentary law" is related neither to statutory legal requirements nor to common-law precedent derived from court judgments. As it is widely accepted and based for the most part on long-standing traditions of parliamentary procedure, the current edition of the book is considered a reliable reference[citation needed]. Nevertheless, the provisions of any particular manual are not, as a general matter, legally binding upon an assembly that has not formally adopted it as its parliamentary authority; any such manual can at best be cited as "persuasive".[4] In addition, a number of changes have been made to recent editions, such as provisions dealing with videoconferences, teleconferences, and email, which now makes these editions more than merely codifications of the "present-day general parliamentary law" as existed at the time Robert was originally writing. Governmental institutions such as states and the US Senate and House of Representatives have written and approved their own "rules", most notably "Mason's" rules for California. Each institution has to consider local customs, right to speak laws, etc in adopting their codes.

Subsequent editions and versions[edit]

As Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies (cover short title: Robert's Rules of Order)

  • First Edition – February 1876
  • Second Edition – July 1876
  • Third Edition – 1893

As Robert's Rules of Order Revised

  • Fourth Edition – 1915
  • Fifth Edition – 1943
  • Sixth Edition ("Seventy-Fifth Anniversary") – 1951

As Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised

  • Seventh Edition – 1970 ("Enlarged more than twofold and totally recast to be made more explanatory")
  • Eighth Edition – 1981
  • Ninth Edition – 1990
  • Tenth Edition – 2000 ("'Millennium,' thoroughly re-edited to refine conceptual clarity and consistency of statement")
  • Eleventh Edition – 2011 ("Significantly re-edited with expanded and updated treatment of many topics")

Robert himself published the first four editions before his death in 1923, the last being the thoroughly revised and expanded fourth edition published as Robert's Rules of Order Revised in May 1915. By this time Robert had long been retired from the Army with the rank of brigadier general.

Through a family trust, and later through the Robert's Rules Association, several subsequent editions of Robert's work have been published, including another major revision of the work. The seventh edition, published in February 1970 on the 94th anniversary of the publication of the first edition, was the first under the title Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised.

The current edition of the series became effective on September 23, 2011,[5] and entitled Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, Eleventh Edition (2011) (hardback ISBN 978-0-306-82021-2; paperback ISBN 978-0-306-82020-5; leatherbound ISBN 978-0-306-82022-9).[6][7] This edition states that it:

supersedes all previous editions and is intended automatically to become the parliamentary authority in organizations whose bylaws prescribe "Robert's Rules of Order," "Robert's Rules of Order Revised," "Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised," or "the current edition of" any of these titles, or the like, without specifying a particular edition.


In addition, since the Tenth Edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, a shorter reference guide, Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief, has been published to coincide with the main edition. The most recent edition of this shorter guide, the Second Edition, coincides with the current Eleventh Edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised.[9]

Other editions and variations[edit]

Since the copyrights for several of the original editions have expired, numerous other books and manuals have been published incorporating "Robert's Rules of Order" as part of their titles, some of them based on those earlier editions.

The existence of multiple editions and other variations all published as "Robert's Rules of Order" can sometimes cause confusion, as the various publications may differ in some details. If an organization that has adopted "Robert's Rules of Order" does not wish RONR to be considered its reference authority, it should adopt another version explicitly, as RONR is generally considered by parliamentarians to be the definitive source on the subject.

Application to specific organizations[edit]

In those cases in which the bylaws or other governing documents of an organization refer to "Robert's Rules of Order," the book may be subordinate to other rules, including (in descending order of authority as applicable) law, corporate charter, constitution and/or bylaws, special rules of order and then Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. Standing rules and, finally, custom have the least authority.

Model United Nations[edit]

Robert's Rules of Order are used in Model United Nations conferences. While the chair of each committee in an MUN conference may sometimes deviate from the written rules for educational purposes, the format of the specific committees is mostly based on "Robert's Rules of Order". Special committees, like the Security Council, for example, have specific guidelines on procedure. There are many MUN conferences across the world, mainly run by independent college students like the National Model United Nations. The procedures in each conference vary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FAQ on parliamentary procedure". National Association of Parliamentarians. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  2. ^ Slaughter, Jim. "Parliamentary Procedure in the 21st Century". RONR is used by approximately 85% of all organizations in the United States. 
  3. ^ Robert 2000, p. xxv
  4. ^ Robert 2000, pp. 16, lines 23–26: "Although it is unwise for an assembly or a society to attempt to function without formally adopted rules of order, a recognized parliamentary manual may be cited under such conditions as persuasive."
  5. ^ Announcement by Henry M. Robert, III, at the 2011 convention of the National Association of Parliamentarians®.
  6. ^ Robert, Henry M. III; Honemann, Daniel H.; Balch, Thomas J.; Seabold, Daniel E.; Gerber, Shmuel (September 27, 2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.). Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780306820205. 
  7. ^ Donadio, Rachel (May 20, 2007). "Point of Order". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Robert 2000, p. ii
  9. ^ "Robert's Rules In Brief". Retrieved 2012-06-15. 


  • Robert, Henry Martyn (2000). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (10th ed.). Cambridge MA: Perseus Books Group. 

External links[edit]

Sites providing full text of older editions[edit]