How to Write Policies and Procedures



What are Policies?


Policies are high-level guidelines. A policy is a plan or outline to guide decisions and actions. Policies provide ground rules for effective interactions and may reflect high-risk areas of care. Policies are usually based upon accepted, well-defined norms or standards of practice. Norms/standards articulate what is done, who is served, and what resources are needed. 


What are Procedures?


Procedures delineate the processes and activities necessary to implement policies; in other words, the day-to-day operations. Procedures are usually based on professional guidelines when they are available. Procedures provide step-by-step guidance for basic organizational activities (e.g., client intake, sanitization, delivery of products).


Why do we care about Policies and Procedures?


Policies and procedures can serve as a “road map” to success. They are also a means to mitigate liability. Policies and procedures provide a structure to ensure that practices are performed appropriately and to safeguard against mistakes.  Moreover, policies and procedures can serve as guidelines for accountability.  Additionally, policies and procedures help with continuity. Policies and Procedures are needed to ensure that everyone understands what must be done and how to do it. They create a standard against which to assess compliance.  When you have policies and procedures, there is an assumption in your favor that you comply with the stated practices, and if something goes wrong, that assumption can provide protection.


Writing Policies and Procedures


Most policies and procedures should be formal/written documents that can be used as a reference. Policies and procedures should be organized and easily accessible. They should include a table of contents. Like policies and procedures should be grouped together, and each policy or procedure should have its own unique number. Policies and procedures may be stored together or separately. It is often easiest to keep the policies and procedures in an outline format, stored sequentially in a notebook or binder, with the procedures following the policies. Copies of the policies may be separately pulled out and assembled together into a handbook.


When writing policies and procedures, utilize your resources! Look to the Pass It On Center Knowledge Base for references. Partners and umbrella organizations are also a great place to start. 


How to start writing


As you begin, pick a subject area that is of critical importance to the program (often User Services or Program Operations are a good starting point). For policies, start by writing down how things SHOULD work – “goals”. It is okay to start with brainstorming and just creating bullet point lists. Then, slowly start to refine those into statements that are clear, concise and communicate your goal.


For procedures, start writing down how things do work – specific steps for carrying out tasks. Again, using bullet points and rough descriptions may be the first step. Then, try accomplishing the task by JUST following the steps that are written down. You will often find that “obvious” and “intuitive” pieces are missing.  Once you have all the right steps, work on finessing the language. Make sure that procedures answer the basics – WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE and HOW.




Please note that by selecting an Internet link you will be directed to an external site, and the Pass It On Center does not control the content of the site.



This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.



File Name File Size
The file create (utah) policies and procedures.doc has been archived. Please contact the Pass It On Center if you would like access to it. 0.11 MB
The file policies and procedures manual table of contents.doc has been archived. Please contact the Pass It On Center if you would like access to it. 0.05 MB

Other Information

Title: How to Write Policies and Procedures
Module: Organization
Author: Jessica Brodey
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title:
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 11-30--0001 12:00 AM