The Procedure Division holds the COBOL statements that the program executes. This section describes the general rules covering COBOL statements and covers each statement type in detail.

The Procedure Division is organized as a series of paragraphs made up of sentences. These sentences describe the desired behavior of the program. Paragraphs may optionally be organized into sections. Most paragraphs in the Procedure Division contain statements that are executed in the normal course of the program. Paragraphs may also be placed in Declaratives. Declarative paragraphs execute only in response to some external condition, such as failure of a file input/output statement.