What is the Format for Writing Bylaws?

by Taruna Chhabra; Updated September 26, 2017
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Bylaws are documents representing an organization and/or the organization’s board of directors. They are ruling documents that outline the code of conduct for the business and the organization. Bylaws define the basic structure and powers of the board. As the bylaws are solid, try to keep them as brief as possible. Bylaws are legal documents and even though their inclusion requirements differ from state to state, the format for writing bylaws is standard.

Definition of Bylaws

Bylaws explain essential matters of running the business. They explain things such as how to vote in elections, how to open and close meetings, and how and which records to keep. Bylaws also define the rules and regulations of all officers of the board, as well as membership requirements. The bylaws serve as an instructional manual and outline for the organization.

Included in Bylaws

There are several articles, or major segments, and sections, or subordinate paragraphs, that are included in the bylaws. Articles that should be included in bylaws are the name of the organization, information about the board of directors, information about the officers, any committee information, information regarding meetings, voting rights and rules, what are considered conflicts of interest, fiscal policies, and how the bylaws might be amended. The amendment section is important as it should outline how the outlaws can be changed, including how many votes are necessary to alter the bylaws. Underneath each article, include section paragraphs. For instance, the officers’ article should have sections detailing how the officers are voted in, how many officers there are, and what their term limits are.

Accountability in Bylaws

As no set of bylaws can cover all issues and circumstances, ensure that the bylaws include a section that details accountability and fairness. The bylaws should discuss how to handle any problems that might occur within the organization and any matter of disagreement associated with the board of directions and the members. Discuss how the organization will resolve issues that are not included in the bylaws document.

Making the Bylaws Official

In order to ensure that the bylaws of your organization are official, add a secretary’s certificate at the end of the document. The signature will also indicate that the bylaws are true and accurate. Also include the official adoption date at the bottom of the document.

About the Author

Based in California, Taruna Chhabra has been writing general knowledge and science-related articles for various websites since 2010. Chhabra holds a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of San Francisco.

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