Guidance by Project Type

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There are many free programs that can help create your documentary. Even if you do not have access to a camera or expensive editing software, you can create a strong documentary using historical photographs and video footage on your topic.  Programs such as PowerPoint can even be used to build your documentary scenes, add your narration, and convert to a video file if you do not have access to video editing software.  Remember to always include narration in your project. A documentary that requires the judges to read the text is not effective, and it is against the rules to provide live narration at the contest.

Your documentary should not exceed the 10 minute timelimit which starts with the first image or sound and concludes at the end of the credits.

Be careful about appearing in your documentary. Most documentary producers do not appear in their work. People who want to perform should use the performance category.

If you decide to produce a documetnary, consider entering it in the N.C. Museum of History's annual Longleaf Film Festival.

2021-22 Contest Project Creation Guidelines by Category


The first step to designing a great NHD exhibit is to know what the maximum dimensions of the category are, and plan to use them. An exhibit that is six feet tall can provide much more content than one that is only four feet tall. At the same time, don't include too much information and clutter the the space. A few well chosen illustrations and labels are far more effective. Do not overdo the use of quotes as well. In the exhibit category, the old adage "less is more" applies.

Make sure that there is a logical flow of information on your board. If you are using the traditional tri-shaped form, generally the main point is located on the center panel of the exhibit. 

Construct the exhibit so that it can easily be changed if you need to make improvements along the way, and keep in mind that you are required to set up your board yourself. Lightweight materials make this task much easier.

2021-22 Contest Project Creation Guidelines by Category

Historical Papers

Papers need to have a strong thesis statement. Tell the reader what it is you intend to prove in your paper. Organize the paper so it flows logically. Restate your thesis in the conclusion and indicate how you proved your point.

Most judges in the paper category have more time to examine your project than judges in other categories. Therefore, grammatical errors, misspellings and haphazard margins will be especially noticeable. Read and re-read your paper before you submit it. It's usually a good idea to have others read it as well.
Appendices are fine, but most judges don't like to see too much extra material. If you decide to include an appendix, choose wisely and use only illustrations that will enhance and support the information included in your paper.

2021-22 Contest Project Creation Guidelines by Category


Each performance may be up to 10 minutes in length. Be sure to use all of the time allotted to you.

Backdrops and props can be as elaborate as you choose to make them; however, some of the most effective ones are the simplest. Keep in mind that you have to carry them and set them up yourself.

Avoid creating sets that require special needs, like special lighting, as the venue may not always be able to accommodate them. Many times the competition venues will be small classrooms or even hallways. Remember this as you design sets and block your performance. Prepare yourself to adapt to the circumstances.

2021-22 Contest Project Creation Guidelines by Category


The central National History Day office says it best:

Your website is a collection of web pages, interconnected with hyperlinks, that presents primary and secondary sources, interactive multimedia, and historical analysis. Your website should be an accumulation of research and argument that incorporates textual and non-textual (photographs, maps, music, etc.) description, interpretation, and multimedia sources to engage and inform viewers about your chosen historical topic.

Students must use NHDWebCentral to build their websites. Please be aware that websites built using any other building platform, including Weebly and Goodle, will not be allowed at the 2021 contests. 

2021-22 Contest Project Creation Guidelines by Category