Policy vs. Procedure


What is a Policy?

  • Describe the rules that establish what will or will not be done.
  • Can range from a broad philosophy to specific rules.
  • Guide decision making by employees.
  • Are usually expressed in standard sentence and paragraph format.
  • Does not restate the law or ask others to follow the law.
  • Include WHAT the rule is, WHY it exists, WHEN it applies and WHO it covers.

What is a Procedure?

  • Describe the critical steps undertaken to achieve policy intent.
  • Are succinct, factual and to the point.
  • Are usually expressed using lists.
  • Include HOW to achieve the necessary result/compliance with the policy.

Writing policies

  • Avoid use of "should" or "may" as these words imply choice.
  • Questions that a policy statement typically answers:
    • Who needs to follow the policy?
    • In what situation(s) does this policy not apply? What are the major conditions or restrictions? What is expected of the employee or student? Are there exclusions or special situations?
    • Who is making a decision and what do they consider in their decision?

Writing Procedure:

  • List steps to follow in order to comply with the policy, in the same order as in the policy.
  • List responsibility for each step.
  • Use one action per stepsteps that contain more than one action can confuse the reader.
  • Avoid too much detail - link to unit rules or work instructions on the University intranet if necessary.
  • Refer the reader to related documents, forms, work instructions/unit rules.

Request for new policy/modification to existing policy

To start the process for a new policy, modification to existing policy, or modification to departmental practice / elimination / consolidation, please contact the Policy Office ( and request the KPU Policy/Procedure Request Form.

KPU Glossary of Policy Definitions (KPU Credential Login Required)

The KPU Glossary of Policy Definitions ( contains a comprehensive, alphabetized list of policy definitions from all current KPU policies.