Minutes can be written in two ways: agenda-based minutes or reports and informal meeting minutes or summaries. The formats of recording minutes vary according to the nature of the organization or group and by region. Minutes of staff meetings, workshops, seminars and interdepartmental meetings may all follow varied document styles.
Minutes serve as a useful reminder for participants after the meeting's conclusion and also ensure that absent colleagues can learn what was discussed and what decisions were made. Agenda-based minutes or reports are the traditional type of records. These are the minutes taken at a scheduled meeting for which the agenda is known. The agenda may either be circulated prior to the meeting or announced by the chairperson at the start of the meeting. They follow the framework set by the agenda. In most organizations, agenda-based minutes constitute the principal records of formal governance meetings. They are greatly sophisticated, complex and formal documents and are normally written by professionals or précis writers.
Informal meeting minutes are mostly taken in departmental and group meetings. They are summaries of decisions taken, follow-up actions required, persons responsible for individual projects and milestones and deadlines of those projects. Summary minutes can also be used to trace the history of a project. Generally, these types of minutes are distributed to all attendants and in some cases to other interested parties who were not present in the meeting.