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Historical Paper Rules

History fair projects in the historical paper category must follow the general rules which apply to all history fair entries (see link at right). In addition, historical papers must follow all of the specific rules listed below.

Rule 1: Length Requirements - Particular attention should be paid to the length of a paper.

  • The text of historical papers must be no less than 1,500 and no more the 2,500 words in length. Typically, there are 25 lines on a page and 10 words per line, so if the paper runs over 10 pages, it should be shortened.
  • Notes, annotated bibliography, illustration captions, and supplemental/appendix material do not count in the word count total.
  • Appended materials must be directly referred to in the text of the paper.
  • Extensive supplemental materials are inappropriate.
  • Authors of papers may supply a word count in the top right corner of the first page (not the title page).
  • Each word or number in the text of the paper counts as one word.

Note: Oral history transcripts, correspondence between you and experts, questionnaires, and other primary or secondary materials used as sources for your paper should be cited in your bibliography, but should not be included as attachments 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 Rule 15 for citation styles.

Please note that an extensively annotated footnote should not be used to get around the word limit.

Rule 3: Preparation Requirements - Papers must be typed, computer-printed, or legibly handwritten in ink 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, using no more than 12 characters per inch or no less than 10-point type. Papers must be stapled in the top left corner and should not be enclosed in any cover or binder. The title page should have no illustrations.

Rule 4: Number of Copies - Four copies of the paper must be submitted direct to the HOTRHF Office and online registration completed by the deadline established by HOTRHF. Historical papers are judged well in advance of the fair and must be submitted by the early deadline, approximately four weeks before the fair. Winning papers are sometimes published; you must be prepared to give permission for such publication.

Be sure to keep a copy of your paper for yourself and bring it with you to the contest.

HOTRHF Note: Rules listed on this web site are now confirmed for 2014 by National History Day.




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