History Day rules are determined by the National History Day office, ensuring that each state follows the same guidelines.
For each of the five categories:
- 80% of the criteria is Historical Quality and Relation to Theme.
- 20% is specific to each project's medium.
- An annotated bibliography is required, showing what sources the student used to conduct his or her research.
History Day exhibits are presented as mini-museum exhibits. Students use images, artifacts, graphics, and their own writing to deliver information to the judges. Exhibits are limited to 500 student-composed words, but there is no limit on quotes from other sources. For example, if they use an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, those words don't count towards the limit. There are also size limits for the exhibit boards. Projects may be no taller than 6 feet, no wider than 40 inches, and no deeper than 30 inches.
A complete explanation of the exhibit rules can be found here.
For those students who love technology, making a documentary might be the right choice. History Day documentaries are videos that students create using any number of technologies. Various computer programs will allow students to upload film footage and images, and add a music track and an audio track for the student-written script. Documentaries are limited to 10 minutes in length, must be in DVD format, and all equipment must be student-run.
A complete explanation of the documentary rules can be found here.
Students with dramatic flair and an interest in public speaking might choose to do a performance. History Day performances are short plays researched, scripted, and acted by the students. These are live performances, not filmed in advance. Any props, backdrops, and media devices must be set up and run by the students.
A complete explanation of the performance rules can be found here.
Research Paper Category
The research paper category is an option for students who enjoy writing. Research papers are to be no less than 1,500 words and no more than 2,500 words. The paper category is also the only category in which students must work individually; there are no group papers!
A complete explanation of the research paper rules can be found here.
Rapidly becoming one of the most popular categories, the History Day website category is another one that students who are comfortable with technology will enjoy. Students are required to use the National History Day Website Editor when creating their entry. Websites are limited to 1,200 student-composed words.
If you are having difficulties with your website, or are unsure if you've created it in the correct format, please visit the National History Day Website Editor Issues page for help.
The full list of rules can be found here in the National History Day Rule Book.
If you have a rules question, please contact Sarah Aschbrenner.