Exhibit Rules & Guidelines

university of colorado denver national history day in colorado a pre-collegiate social studies and literacy program

PLEASE NOTE: The General Rules for All Categories must also be adhered to.

Rule 1: Size Requirements 

  • The overall size of your exhibit when displayed for judging must be no larger than 40 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and 6 feet high.
  • Measurement of the exhibit does not include the table on which it rests; however, it would include any stand that you create and any table drapes.
  • Circular or rotating exhibits must be no more than 30 inches in diameter.

Rule 2: Word Limit

  • There is a 500 word limit that applies to all text created by the student that appears on, or as part of, an exhibit entry.
  • This includes the text you write for titles, subtitles, captions, graphs, timelines, media devices, (e.g., video, slides, computer files) or supplemental materials (e.g., photo albums, scrapbooks, etc.) where you use your own words.
  • Brief factual credits of the sources of illustrations or quotations included on the exhibit do not count toward the 500-word limit. A date (January 1, 1903) counts as one word.

Note: Be careful that your message is clear and contained on the exhibit itself. Extensive supplemental material is inappropriate. For example, oral history transcripts, correspondence between you and experts, questionnaires, and other primary or secondary materials used as sources for your exhibit should be cited in your bibliography but not included as attachments to your bibliography or exhibit. How Many Words? 

Example from an exhibit board ​Number of student-composed words ​Explanation
​John Quincy Adams served as the Secretary of State... 9 ​These are all student-composed words
On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified... 7 ​The date counts as one word
​When Thomas Jefferson wrote that "All men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence...> 10 Direct quotations from primary and secondary sources do not count as student-composed words
​"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth..." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863 ​0 ​Direct quotations from primary and secondary sources and brief, factual credits do not count as student-composed words

Rule 3: Media Device 

  • Media devices (e.g., DVD players, tablets, mp3 players, video monitors, computers, etc.) used in an exhibit must not run for more than a total of 3 minutes.
  • Quotes from another source (e.g. clip from a documentary, primary source music, etc.) are considered quotes. Any student-composed questions, narration, or graphics incorporated within a media presentation  are subject to the 500 word limit. 
  • Viewers and judges must be able to control media devices. Any media devices used must fit within the size limits of the exhibit. 
  • Any media devices used should be integral to the exhibit - not just a method to bypass the prohibition against live student involvement. 

Rule 4: Crediting Sources

  • All quotes from written sources must be credited on the exhibit.
  • All visual sources (e.g., photographs, paintings, charts, and graphs, etc.) must be credited on the exhibited and fully cited in the annotated bibliography).
  • Brief, factual credits do not count toward the word total.

Rule 5: Required Written Materials

  • Three copies of your title page, process paper, and bibliography should be presented to the judges for review. Be sure to bring an additional copy for your own reference. Refer to Part III, Rules 16-18, for citation and style information. 

Tips From Your State Office In addition to the title of your exhibit, 2 separate sections should be clearly displayed FRONT and CENTER and immediately visible to the viewer: THESIS and SIGNIFICANCE.  The timeline should be displayed in such a way that it contrasts (through color or design) with the rest of the information so that it's easy to follow.  Label your sections. For example, a National judge commented on a Colorado exhibit: "You failed to include the political, economic, social, and cultural significance of your topic." The student didn't fail to include these at all; in fact, they were displayed individually at the top center. However, the student DID NOT LABEL these points to make it clear and visible to the viewer. REMEMBER: At State, and even more so at National, judges have very little time to spend with each exhibit. Each element on the board must be very clear and precise. Supplemental Material. Make sure your message is clear and contained on the exhibit itself. Supplemental material is not helpful and, if important, should be noted in your bibliography. Judges will not have the time to review this material. The judges are evaluating only your board and the process paper.