Rules & Guidelines

General Rules for All Categories

These are rules form the National History Day Rule Book, with some additions that relate to the Colorado contests. For detailed rules, visit the link below.

Your entry must be clearly related to the annual theme.
You can only create one entry per year, with up to four other students.
Groups may contain between 2 and 5 participants. Once a group enters a competition, students may not be added, replaced, or pursue an individual project.
Entries must be completed during the current contest year. Projects from a previous year cannot be revised or reused.
You are responsible for the research, design, and creation of your entry. You may receive help and advice from parents and teachers.
Tampering with another student's project is grounds for disqualification.
You are responsible for setting up your own entry.
You are responsible for supplying props and equipment at each level of competition. Visit the detailed rules page for exceptions.
You should be prepared to answer judges' questions about the content and development of your entry. Let the judges' questions guide the interview.
Costumes are not permitted, except in the performance category.
Items potentially dangerous in any way—such as weapons, firearms, animals, organisms, plants, etc.—are strictly prohibited. Replicas may be permitted.
Your entry must have a title that is clearly visible on all written materials.
Entries must include: a title page, a process paper, and an annotated bibliography. There materials must be typed or neatly printed on plain white paper and stapled together in the top left corner. Do not enclose them in a binder or cover.
A title page is required as the first page of written material in every category and must include: title of entry, student name(s), contest division, category, applicable word counts.
All categories, except historical paper, must include a process paper with their entry. It must describe in 500 or fewer words how you conducted your research and created you entry.
An annotated bibliography is required for all categories. List only those sources that contributed to the development of your entry, i.e., sources that provided usable information or new perspectives in preparing your entry. This is not included in your word count.
You are required to separate your bibliography into primary and secondary sources.
Style for citations and bibliographic references must follow the principles of either the MLA or theTurabian style guide.
At each contest level you must register online or by submitting paper entry forms (check with your contest coordinator for the required format), meet specific deadlines, and follow any procedures established by that contest's coordinator. You are responsible for knowing and meeting the deadlines.
Each affiliate is limited to two entries per contest category in the National Contest. Ties at affiliate contests must be resolved at the affiliate level.
Individual students and groups must be present for an entry to be judged at the National Contest. All members of a group must register for the National Contest.

Exhibit Rules & Guidelines

Exhibits are displays of visual and written information. They are similar to exhibits found in a museum. People walking by should be attracted to an exhibit's main idea and, therefore, stop to learn more about the topic. To be successful, an exhibit must create an effective balance between visual interest and historical explanation.

The most common form of exhibit entry is a three-panel display. This style is the least complicated to design and build but is still a very effective way to present information.


Paper Rules & Guidelines

A research paper is the traditional form of presenting historical research. Various types of creative writing (such as fictional diaries, poems, etc.) are also permitted, but must conform to all general and category rules. Your paper should be grammatically correct and well-written.

The written work should consist of four parts: 

  • An introduction stating the thesis of the work 
  • A main section addressing the theme
  • A conclusion flowing logically from the thesis statement and body of the paper 
  • An annotated bibliography divided into primary and secondary sources

Website Rules & Guidelines

The Website category is the most interactive of all NHD categories. A website should reflect the students' ability to use website design software and computer technology to communicate the topic's significance to history. Your historical website should be a collection of web pages, interconnected by hyperlinks, that presents both primary and secondary sources and your historical analysis.

In designing the entry, students should include elements that actively engage the audience in learning about the topic. These elements do not have to be technologically complex, but they should let the audience participate in exploring the topic, rather than passively viewing information. The presentation should include primary source materials, but must also be an original production. To produce a web site, students must have access to appropriate software and equipment and be able to operate it. Students must submit their work on the NHD Portal for judging. All websites must be build on the NHDWebCentral platform!


Documentary Rules & Guidelines

A documentary should reflect your ability to use audiovisual equipment to communicate your topic's significance, much as professional documentaries do. The documentary category will help you develop skills in using photographs, film, video audiotapes, and graphic presentations. Your presentation should include primary materials but must also be an original production. To produce a documentary you must have access to equipment and be able to operate it.

Performance Rules & Guidelines

In this category, students present their research live to an audience that includes judges. A live performance may be one of the most exciting ways to participate in History Day. However, like the other project types, it comes with a set of strict requirements.

Entries in this category must have dramatic appeal, but not at the expense of historical information. It is easy to get overly focused on the costumes and drama. Students must take care to ensure their performance follows the requirements of sound historical research and presentation.