Paper 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 (except Rule 13).
Rule 1: Length Requirements 
  • Historical papers must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words.
  • Each word or number in the text of the paper ocunts as one word. This includes student-composed text as well as quotes from primary or secondary sources.
  • The 2,500-word limit does not apply to notes, the annotated bibliography, illustration captions, and appendix material. Appendix material must referenced in the text of te paper. Extensive supplemental materials are inappropriate. Use of appendices should be very limited and may include photographs, maps, charts, and/or graphs only.
Note: Oral history transcripts, correspondence between you and experts, questionnaires, and other primary and secondary source materials used as sources for your paper should be cited in your bibliography but not included as attachments/appendices to your paper. 
Rule 2: Citations 
  • Citations - footnotes, endnotes or internal documentation - are required. 
  • Citations are used to credit the sources of specific ideas as well as direct quotations. 
  • Refer to Part III, Rule 18, for citation styles. Please note that an extensively annotated footrnote should not be used to get around the word limit. 
Rule 3: Preparation Requirements 
  • Papers must be typed or computer printed on plain, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper with 1-inch margins on all sides. 
  • Pages must be numbered consecutively and double-spaced with writing on one side and in 12-point font. 
  • Papers must be stapled in the top left corner and should not be enclosed in any cover or binder. Refer to Part III, Rule 14, for title page requirements. 
Rule 4: Number of Copies 
  • Four copies of the paper must be submitted with the appropriate entry form by the deadline established for the contest, via the appropriate registration process, by the deadling established for the contest.
  • Winning papers are sometimes published by contest officials; you must be prepared to give permission for such publication. 
  • You must bring a copy of your paper and annotated bibliography to the contest for your use. 
Tips From Your State Office 
"Writing history" is a different type of process than other types of writing you may have experienced in school. In addition to the main components of your paper - thesis, evidence/argument, and conclusion - structure your paper so that you: (1) Tell them what you're going to tell them; (2) Tell them; then, (3) Tell them what you told them. 
Within the first paragraph (or two, at the most), make your thesis statement clear along with the significance of your topic. Be sure to clarify what you mean by "revolution, reaction, and reform." Your reader needs to know what definitions you're using so he/she can follow your argument. 
When you're "telling them what you're going to tell them," don't hesitate to set out a road map. Use statements like: "In this paper, I will argue that . . . " OR "This paper will demonstrate that . . . " You may use paragraph headings throughout the paper that guide the reader through these various points. 
You may also use pictures or tables within the paper, but only if they clarify a point you need to make and add significantly to your argument. 
Judges will be looking for a "balanced" argument. Be sure to acknowledge controversial or different points of view.