Writing Effectively at The World Health Organization


Records document an organization’s discussions and decision-making processes. Records focus on discussion points, decisions made and actions required or taken by participants at meetings or other events. A written record enables people to act on decisions made and refer to previous events, discussions and issues.

Minutes are the most common type of record; they document the events and decisions made in meetings. Minutes vary in length and complexity, depending on the type of meeting they document; they can range from a one-page summary of a staff meeting to a 30- to 50-page document of long, complex and important meetings.

Other types of records include notes for the file. These are short summaries of a conversation or decision; they are typically not circulated, but, as the name suggests, are kept in the file related to the group or topic. Notes for the file are used to document discussions and conversations in one-to-one or small group meetings between WHO officials and key people, often outside WHO. Notes for the file are usually issue-based.

Since minutes are both the most common and the most challenging type of record, this section of the module will focus on them. We will focus on the more common type of minutes documents, but will also discuss some of the fundamental skills required for documenting major formal meetings.

© WHO 2011