The Slice

Meeting Minutes vs Notes: A Comprehensive Comparison

September 1, 2023

You can document the most important information in a meeting in two key ways– meeting minutes and meeting notes. In this article, we'll examine the similarities and differences between these two documents.

Meetings are a crucial part of any project – where your team members all come together to share their progress and where important decisions are made collectively.

While meetings are key to keeping a team on the same page, it's just as important to make sure the decisions that are made aren't lost to the ether.

You can document the most important information in a meeting in two key ways– meeting minutes and meeting notes. In this article, we'll examine the similarities and differences between these two documents.

What Are Meeting Minutes?

Meeting minutes are transcripts from a meeting that are both formal and detailed. These can include information including which action items were discussed during the meeting, which decisions attendees made, and what must be done once the meeting is over.

Everyone who attended the meeting and other interested parties can then have access to the meeting minutes after the fact. This makes it possible for individuals and teams to check back in with the meeting minutes down the road.

Meeting minutes are a highly useful document because they provide a summary of the meeting for people who couldn't make it to the meeting. Beyond that, the attendees can refer to meeting minutes regarding the next steps they are supposed to take and the agreements they made.

Essentially, this is a great way to ensure that people are on the same page about the plan for the time between the most recent and the next meeting.

Have your virtual meetings felt a bit stiff recently? Make sure you check out these tips for reducing awkwardness in video meetings.

What Are Meeting Notes?

Meeting notes are much more casual than meeting minutes. Rather than a formal transcript of what occurred, meeting notes are just, well, notes about the most vital information that came up during the meeting. For example, this might include important deadlines that were agreed to or decisions that the group came to.

While meeting minutes are taken by a designated individual and shared with everyone after the meeting, meeting notes can be taken by anyone. These are just brief notes that can be used for personal reference, not a formal document that's going to be passed around the team, department, or organization.

Taking meeting notes can be a great way to record what you've agreed to do or highlight key information. Again, these are just for personal use, so there really aren't any rules for how you take them. If you want to come up with your own codes or abbreviations to make note-taking fast and easy, the world is your oyster!

That being said, meeting notes can sometimes end up becoming part of a more official record of the meeting. For example, if a less formal meeting is taking place and some people can't make it, managers might ask someone to take notes so they can be referred to later.

Similarities Between Meeting Minutes and Notes

Both meeting minutes and meeting notes are documents that go over what happened during a meeting. Though they have different purposes and tend to follow different formats, both minutes and notes allow team members to keep track of important information and dates that came up during the discussion.

You'll also find that meeting notes and minutes usually include the date the meeting occurred, the main purpose of the meeting, the name of the person who took the notes, and details from the meeting. Of course, writing down a quick date on a post-it could count as a meeting note, so sometimes, meeting notes won't even have the writer's name or date on them.

The Key Differences Between Meeting Minutes and Notes

Now that we've got a handle on how meeting minutes and notes are similar, let's look at what sets them apart.


How these different documents that record the happenings of a meeting are created isn't the same. Typically, the person running the meeting will ask a specific person to document the discussion in the form of meeting minutes. With meeting notes, though, a supervisor or manager usually won't instruct anyone to start writing. Instead, this is simply something team members can do if they feel it's necessary.

Even if meeting notes are being taken slightly more formally, they still might not transcribe every bit of the meeting. Instead, they could just include a list of specific tasks or important deadlines. When a person is taking notes for their personal reference, the finished product could be as simple as a task or two written on a piece of paper or a particularly important deadline they don't want to forget.

Meeting minutes are also typically typed rather than handwritten. Since meeting notes are often so casual, they can either be handwritten or typed, depending on the preference of the note-taker.

Do you feel like your meetings have been a bit aimless as of late? Check out these agenda templates to try for your next meeting.


Meeting minutes and notes differ in their purpose as well. The meeting minutes are taken to create a super-official record of everything that went down during the meeting. They are created with the intent of sharing them with staff after the fact and to be used for reference at a later date.

On the other hand, meeting notes are usually just taken for the sake of the individual taking them. While someone might choose to share their notes with co-workers, managers, or other members of the team, this is an inherent quality of meeting notes. This means that there's a lot more leeway in terms of how the notes are written and what they contain.

Are you running virtual meetings and feel conflicted about the whole debate about mandating team members to have their cameras on? Make sure you check out our post about the pros and cons of requiring camera use during meetings.


Meeting minutes will usually follow a very specific format that remains the same from meeting to meeting. This is because they are intended to be formal records, not just a brief post-it reminder for one employee.

You'll usually find that organizations will structure their meeting minutes to include the following information roughly in this order:

  • The date and time of the meeting

  • The names of the people attending the meeting

  • The names of the people that aren't attending the meeting

  • The names of special guests or guest speakers, if applicable

  • Progress and operations reports

  • Unfinished business

  • New business

  • Announcements

  • Notes for the next meeting

Of course, there aren't any laws on the books about how to take meeting minutes. You and your team ultimately have a lot of leeway when it comes to how you can best structure the minutes you take. That being said, your organization might have overarching guidelines they ask you to follow, so the minutes follow a standard format.

If you want to add more structure to your meetings and minutes, check out our guide to Robert's Rules of Order.

How to Write Meeting Minutes

So, how should you go about creating stellar meeting minutes that can be shared with the rest of your department or organization? Let's take a look at how you can write superb minutes that don't leave out any of the most important details.

Date and Time

Ok, ok, this is an easy one. Sometimes, though, it's the easiest thing we'll most likely forget.

Ensure you include both the date and time the meeting occurred. This way, it's as easy as can be to look back and reference the minutes if you or anyone else needs to at a later time. Keeping the date off can create unnecessary confusion, so make sure this info is at the top of the minutes.

Attendees Names

You'll also want to make sure you list all the people in attendance and those who were invited but couldn't make it. Though this might seem like a formality, it's actually very useful to be able to know who was present when you're looking back at old minutes.

To save time, you can copy and paste the attendees from previous meetings if you're typically getting together with the same crew on a regular basis. Then, you can edit as needed if there's some variation in terms of who is present.

Purpose of the Meeting

Writing down the purpose of the meeting can make it easy to find what you're looking for later on.

This could mean noting that you are discussing the launch of a brand new product (how exciting!) or having a progress check-in with the team.

Agenda Items and Discussion Topics

Now, it's time to get to the meat of the situation. You'll want to ensure you include all the topics and agenda items touched upon.

Sharing your planned agenda with attendees ahead of time can ensure that this part of the meeting goes as smoothly as possible and is as productive as possible.

Action Items

Now that you've made a bunch of decisions, it's time to write down what needs to happen next.

This is one of the most important parts of the meeting minutes– forget to write down the action items, and all of a sudden, no one can remember what they agreed to do.

Plan For the Next Meeting

If you're taking the minutes for a regular, recurring meeting, write down the date and time the next one will be held.

You can do this at the end of the minutes so everyone knows exactly where to find the info if they don't write it down in their own meeting notes.

Roles For the Next Meeting

It's generally a good idea to rotate the roles of individuals during a meeting. Rather than trying to figure it out on the fly the next time your team gets together, assign the roles for the next meeting at your current meeting.

Jot them down towards the end of your minutes and know exactly where to look if you need to find this information before the next time you all get together.

Additional Resources

Did you and your team use supporting documents or resources during the meeting? If so, make sure you include the names of those documents or links to them towards the end of the minutes.

This way, the document is easy to find if any of the talking points or action items reference it.

How to Take Meeting Notes

Since meeting notes are typically just taken by an individual for personal use, you have a lot more freedom when it comes to how you create them. You might find that you prefer to jot down relevant dates in your planner, for example, or you might incorporate your notes into a larger task management structure you use.

For what it's worth, research has found that it's more effective to take notes by hand when remembering conceptual information in a long-term way when compared to typing. Keeping your laptop out of arm's reach can also help you resist the urge to multitask, though you'll need your computer if your meeting is occurring virtually.

One useful tip for taking meeting notes is to only write down key points rather than trying to transcribe what's going on verbatim. Not only is the latter exhausting, but it can ensure you're able to stay more tuned into the conversation at hand.

At the end of the day, finding your own method for taking meeting notes is all that really matters. Everyone is different, and discovering the most effective strategy for you is ultimately the most important thing.

Looking For a Way to Increase Engagement at Your Next Meeting?

While meetings are essential to managing a team and the projects they're working on, they can also get a bit of a bad rap. If you're searching for a way to give your whole team a bit more pep in their step as they sign on for your next meeting, consider adding some delicious treats or even a fun virtual team-building exercise.

If that sounds like exactly what the doctor ordered, you can start your order today!

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