Unit Bylaw Guidelines and Other Useful Information

Committee on Constitution and Bylaws (C&B)


Here are links to bylaws for Divisions, Local Sections, and International Chemical Sciences Chapters.

Unit Bylaws – Status

This report includes the status of Division and Local Section bylaws in progress or with certification dates of 2003-present.

Guidelines and Information

C&B has developed language that is legal and consistent with the ACS Governing Documents (Bulletin 5): www.acs.org/bulletin5. The language in the expedited model bylaws and bylaws Template will permit your Division or Section to conduct its elections electronically.

Divisions and Local Sections have 3 options to update their bylaws: 1) Expedited bylaws; 2) bylaws Template; and 3) Marked-up bylaws. Below is a brief summary of each option, followed by important DOCUMENTS and/or information for each option, and NEXT STEPS for all options. Similar templates for International Chemical Sciences Chapters will be available by late spring or summer 2015.

One person should be appointed to work with C&B; consider forming a bylaws committee.

     1. Expedited bylaws option

This is the least time consuming, easiest, and fastest option. This option is not available for any Division or Local Section that is incorporated.  For this option, the Executive Committee must agree on the responses in the questions document and that no other changes may be made to the expedited model bylaws. The Chair or Secretary would then submit the questions document to bylaws@acs.org. See next steps below.

     2. BYLAWS Template option

This is the second easiest option and allows for changes. Refer to the BYLAWS Template for Divisions or Sections and note comments in the introductory paragraph; you may amend any text in GREEN font and add bylaw provisions as necessary; you might consider referring to your current bylaws to see if there is any language that you wish to maintain. In the Template, text in black font is required and consistent with the ACS Governing Documents (www.acs.org/bulletin5). After the Executive Committee agrees to the proposed changes that will suit your Division’s or Section’s needs, please rename the Template with your Division’s or Section’s name and send this document to bylaws@acs.org for a quick review.

If only minor changes have been made, C&B will contact the officers within three weeks with a bylaws document that may be voted by your members, to be conducted in accordance with the Division’s or Section’s current bylaws. If C&B determines that the changes need review, a C&B Subcommittee will be assigned to review the changes; this review might take three months or more, after which the Division or Section will receive C&B’s Preliminary Report of required and recommended changes. See next steps below.

     3. Marked-up bylaws option

This is the old, time-consuming method whereby a Division or Section would mark up its CURRENT bylaws (using Track Changes) with proposed changes that are consistent with the ACS Governing Documents (Bulletin 5): www.acs.org/bulletin5. Be sure to refer to the BYLAWS Template for required text. The Division or Section members should not vote on proposed bylaw changes without C&B’s prior review because in many cases, the bylaws have not been consistent with the ACS Governing Documents and C&B has had to reject a number of bylaws. This option takes C&B 3-4 months or more to do an in-depth review of proposed bylaw changes. IF requested by the Executive Committee, we would be happy to prepare a computer-generated comparison document (using Track Changes) of the Division’s or Section’s current bylaws compared with the bylaws Template. Although this is not ideal, you could use this as the basis for submitting changes. Let us know if you would like this done. After C&B’s review, the Division or Section would receive C&B’s Preliminary Report of required and recommended changes, for which the Division or Section must make all required changes and should make the recommended changes. See next steps below.

Documents and/or information for each option


Additional documents FYI

NEXT STEPS for ALL options

After the Division or Section selects the option to update its bylaws and submits either the questions document for the expedited option, proposed changes on the template, or marked-up bylaws, C&B will then prepare bylaws for vote by the Division's, Section's, or Chapter's members, or do an in-depth review as mentioned above. The members must still VOTE on the proposed bylaw changes in accordance with the CURRENT bylaws. Within 18 months from the date that C&B sends the prepared bylaws, either the Chair or the Secretary would then send the vote results and other required information to C&B to complete the certification process and issue newly certified bylaws on behalf of Council.


The entire process can take as little as a few months or up to a year or more, depending mostly on how long it takes the Division, Section, or Chapter to make changes, for the members to vote, and for the results and other required information to be sent back to C&B. Once again, C&B stands ready to review bylaw proposals before they are voted on by members, so that you can avoid having your members vote again on proposed bylaw changes that are in accord with the ACS Governing Documents.


If you tried either the expedited option or the bylaws Template option, we would appreciate your feedback: did you find the process easy? What would you change? Please send your comments and questions to us at bylaws@acs.org.

Contact C&B

If you have any questions or if you need the current version of your Division's or Section's bylaws, contact us at

  • bylaws@acs.org for C&B's Staff Liaison, Barbara Polansky
  • 202-872-4071 or 800-227-5558, ext. 4071