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Contest Rule Book

Section III A. Papers

A paper is the traditional form of presenting historical research. Various types of creative writing (for example, fictional diaries, poems, etc.) are permitted, but must conform to all general and category rules. Your paper should be grammatically correct and well written.

Part II, Rules for all Categories (except for Rule 13), applies to papers.


Rule 1: Length Requirements
The text of historical papers must be no less than 1,500 and no more than 2,500 words in length. Each word or number in the text of the paper counts as one word. The paper category 2,500 word limit does not apply to: notes, annotated bibliography, illustration captions, and supplemental/ appendix material. Appendix material must be directly referred to in the text of the paper. Extensive supplemental materials are inappropriate. Use of appendices should be very limited and may include photographs, maps, charts, graphs, but we strongly suggest no other supplemental materials.

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 not 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 Part II, Rule 16, 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 and with 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 with the appropriate entry form by the deadline established for the contest. Winning papers are sometimes published by contest officials; you must be prepared to give permission for such publication.

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

Category Checklist

Individuals only.

  • 1,500-2,500 words, excluding notes, annotated bibliography, and title page
  • Title page with only the required information
  • Annotated bibliography, separated into primary and secondary sources
  • Paper addresses the theme
  • Citations
  • 4 copies (plus one for you)
  • Organization shows clear focus and progression
  • Entry card, papers, and fee mailed by deadline
  • Prepare to answer judges' questions at the contest (remember that formal narratives are not appropriate responses to questions)

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