Historical Paper

A paper is the traditional form of presenting historical research. Various types of creative writing (for example, fictional diaries, poems, etc.) are permitted, but all entries must conform to all of the general rules as well as those specific to the paper category.

History papers are submitted for judging to the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair office by the deadline, approximately four to six weeks in advance of the regional fair itself. A complete entry in the historical paper category includes four copies of the paper, each with a title page in the correct format and an annotated bibliography. Papers should not be submitted in covers, folders, or binders of any kind.

Elements of an Excellent Historical Paper

The key to a good paper is critical and extensive investigation of a subject in a broad range of sources, both primary and secondary. The aim is to discover new facts, to interpret them correctly, and to reach a conclusion.

Begin your paper with a clear, concise statement of opinion which the entire paper is written to support. Choose a narrow subject and stay focused, supporting your thesis with research.

A research paper is not a simple narration or a dry list of facts. Present your thesis in a strong introductory paragraph. Support your thesis with a clear, logical flow of ideas. Finally, write a strong conclusion which draws together or summarizes all the facts that support your thesis.

Remember that research should be balanced. The best papers begin with a strong, often controversial thesis, and thorough research must include an investigation of all points of view. A thesis cannot be supported merely by assertion of opinion; it must be defended by a fair consideration of all the facts and by thoughtful analysis and interpretation of those facts.

Basic Requirements for Historical Papers

  • 1,500 to 2,500 words in length. This translates into approximately eight to ten pages typed. Typically, there are twenty-five lines on a page and ten words per line. Each word or number in the text of the paper counts as one word. This does not include annotated bibliography, captions, supplemental/appendix material, or notes.
  • Papers must be typed, computer-printed, or hand-written in ink on white 8.5 x 11-inch paper with one–inch margins on all sides. Pages must be numbered consecutively and double-spaced with writing only on one side of the paper. Type size may be no more than 12 characters per inch or no less than 10 point type.
  • Title page must include only the required information--title, division and category, and name of contestant.
  • Annotated bibliography, separated into primary and secondary sources. The bibliography should have at least six different types of sources (eg, encyclopedia, newspaper, magazine, book, interview, etc.).
  • Endnotes or footnotes. There must be at least 20 endnotes or footnotes (30 to 40 is better).
  • Use Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations as a format guide for your paper. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th or 6th Edition, by Joseph Gibaldi, can be used as a guide for endnotes.

Be sure to read all of the information provided on this Web site before you begin work on your paper. Pay special attention to the mandatory rules that you must follow in order to compete in the historical paper category at the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair. Contact the HOTRHF coordinator if you have any questions.

Remember, a paper entered in the history fair for judging must be the student's own work. Parents, teachers, and friends may advise only. Advising includes assisting in locating information, evaluating project ideas, or reading written materials.

HOTRHF Note: this page is current and up to date for 2014.