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Chicago Metro History Fair Website Rules
Chicago Metro History Fair Website Rules PDF Print E-mail
rulebook website pic

The website category is open to schools whose teachers have taken the CMHEC training.

Teachers are encouraged to contact CMHEC for more details, or go to the Certification page now. Teachers may take advantage of our online website training course and certificate program beginning October 10 through January 13, 2015. Upon receiving certification, teachers may allow students to build websites that can be entered into the History Fair competitions. Teachers and students will gain further access to the website rules and guidelines, and the school's name will appear on a list of certified schools.

newThe NEW Website Category Rules

Wondering what has changed? Read the Summary of the New Rules and Clarifications.

Download the NEW Website Rule Book

Website Category Rules

The website category is the most interactive History Fair category. Using the NHD Website Editor platform, students build a series of interconnected web pages that convey a historical argument supported by multimedia evidence. Students need consistent access to a computer with an Internet connection to complete a History Fair website.

Website Rules

  • Websites are created by individuals or groups of no more than five students.
  • All entries must be constructed through the NHD Website Editor or they will NOT be eligible to participate in History Fair. The URL must begin with eight numbers (for example, http://12345678.nhd.weebly.com).
  • Website entries may contain no more than 1,200 student-composed words. Students must state the number of student-composed words on the home page.
  • The following do not count toward the word limit: quotations; brief credits identifying the source of visuals or quotations; recurring menus, titles, and navigation instructions; required word count notification; words within primary documents and artifacts; and the Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography, which must be integrated into the site.  All other text written by students, including explanatory or analytical captions, do count.
  • Students may use pre-existing photos, videos, music, etc., within the site with proper credit (such as, “Photo from Addie Wyatt Papers, Harsh Collection, Chicago Public Library”). Using objects or content created by others for specific use in your entry violates this rule. For example, using a graphic that others produced at your request is not permitted.
  • Students must operate all equipment (computers, cameras, etc.) and software (NHD website editor, photo or video editing software, etc.) used in the development of the website. Students may receive help and advice from others on the mechanical aspects of creating an entry, but the work must be the students’ own.
  • The first page of the site must serve as the “home page.” It must include the student name(s), entry title, division, number of student-composed words, and the main menu. Including the thesis or a short introduction on the home page is strongly recommended, but not required.

The website may contain multimedia clips (audio, visual, or both) that total no more than four minutes (e.g. use one four-minute clip, four one-minute clips, etc.). Music is included in the four-minute total. Students may record quotations and primary source materials for dramatic effect, but may not narrate their own competitions or explanatory material. If students use any media that requires a specific ²  software to view (e.g. Flash, QuickTime, RealPlayer), they must provide a link to an Internet site where the software is available as a free, secure, and legal download. You may not use embedded material or link to external websites, except for software plug-ins. The entire site, including all media, must be no more than 100 MB.

  • Entries may not link to live or external sites, except to direct viewers to software plug-ins.
  • The content and appearance of a page cannot change when the page is refreshed in the browser. Random text or image generators are not allowed. Pages must be interconnected with hyperlinks. Automatic redirects are not permitted.
  • Crediting sources: All quotations from written sources, visuals, and closely paraphrased accounts must be credited within the website. Brief, factual credits (for example, “Jane Addams, 1908”) do not count toward the student-composed word limit. All sources must be completely, properly cited in the Annotated Bibliography.
  • The navigational menu (organization of the website) must include a “References” tab that holds the Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography. Materials should be posted as PDF files (see “Website Competition Notes”).
  • The pages that comprise the site must be viewable in a standard web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome). Students are responsible for ensuring that the entry is viewable in multiple web browsers.
  • Students may not edit their site during judging—the site will be locked. Advancing projects are given another opportunity for revision.


High School websites that violate the rules will be subject to penalty point deductions. Junior Division websites will not receive separate penalties.

  • Exceeds student-composed word limit: Minus 2 points for each 100 words beyond 1,200 (10 point maximum penalty)
  • Exceeds multimedia time limit: Minus 1 point for each 15 seconds over (10 point maximum penalty)
  • Links to sites outside the website: Minus 5 points per site (Exceptions: Plug-ins -- Flash, QuickTime, etc. -- that one must download to view website content)
  • No Summary Statement : Minus 10 points
  • Bibliography not annotated: Minus 5 points
  • No bibliography: 0 points in the sources category


Website Competition Notes

The following materials should be posted on the website under a navigational tab titled “References.” Post these files as PDF files—do not use Google Drive or Scribd.

  • Summary Statement
  • Annotated Bibliography, separated between primary and secondary sources (see pp. 4-5)

The website must be created within the NHD Website Editor beginning at the school level. Do NOT attempt to create a site elsewhere and transfer it. The editing system gives students a URL that looks something like http://12345678.nhd.weebly.com—projects that are not created within the NHD Website Editor will be disqualified. Teachers must submit the URL, student email address, username, and password for each project advancing to the History Fair by the deadline.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! When you have completed your entry, make sure that you hit PUBLISH to ensure that your most recent revisions are visible to the viewer. You will see saved changes on your editing screen, but they are not visible to the viewer until you publish the site. You will be blocked from editing your site during judging. The editor will reopen after judging is complete to allow advancing projects an opportunity for revision.

Website Guidelines

[See "HF Project Guides," "Websites," “Digi-telling History” for further guidance.]

  • Students should not hide the thesis and introduction. The home page is the first encounter that judges have with the project. The home page should provide a “road map” for the project by introducing the argument.
  • History Fair websites should be interactive. Consider integrating clips from a variety of media (video footage, interview excerpts, etc.), pop-ups that permit detailed viewing of sources, music, interactive timelines or maps, etc. Remember: interactive features should enhance your historical argument, not distract from it.
  • Student-composed text should offer a historical interpretation or argument. Quotations, visuals, and multimedia elements are evidence for the argument you are trying to convey.
  • Remember to PUBLISH all changes to your site so they become visible to the viewer!
  • Spend time considering the overall organization of the website and how to best construct the navigational menu. Organize on paper before touching a keyboard.
  • Judges cannot open files stored in Google Drive and may have difficulty reading files stored in Scribd. Upload the Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography as PDF files.
  • Remember to preview the website on several different computers and in several different browsers.

Rules for All Categories

  • Exhibits, documentaries, websites, and performances may be completed individually or by a group of 2-5 students. Papers are individual only. All students in a group entry must be involved in the research and interpretation of the group’s topic.
  • Topics must connect with Chicago or Illinois history in order to advance to the state contest. Non-Illinois topics are permitted at the regional and finals competitions.
  • Teachers often require integration of the National History Day theme, but the theme is not required by the Chicago Metro History Fair. Projects registered as “NHD eligible” will be assessed on how well their project integrates the NHD theme.
  • Students may research, create, and enter only one project each year. Sharing research in multiple projects is not permitted. Revising or reusing an entry from a previous year—whether one’s own or another student’s—may result in disqualification.
  • Entries submitted for competition must be original and have been researched and developed in the current contest year.
  • Students are responsible for the research, design, and creation of their own project, as well as operating their own equipment and materials. Students may receive advice from adults on the mechanical aspects of creating an entry and/or reasonable help necessary for safety, but the work must be completed by students. Feedback on the student’s work is permissible (help proofreading; suggestions or questions based on the student’s ideas, etc.). Materials created by others specifically for use in the entry violate this rule.
  • Each project is required to have a Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography. [See “Required Materials” ]
  • Word counts must be provided for exhibits, websites, and papers. Time lengths must be provided for documentaries and performances.
  • Exhibits, performances, and documentaries will be judged and interviewed at the public competitions. Papers and websites are judged in a separate stream, which may have different deadlines for submission. Paper and website entrants will have an opportunity to share their projects at the competitions.

Interviews: Students should not prepare a formal, verbal presentation; however, they should plan to respond to questions posed by judges. The interviews are important to the History Fair experience, but the entry is judged on its merits alone.

  • Plagiarism is unacceptable, and constitutes grounds for disqualification. [See www.plagiarism.org for further guidance.]
  • Items potentially dangerous in any way—such as weapons, firearms, animals, etc.—are strictly prohibited.
  • The Fair Use Doctrine allows students to use pre-existing materials (photos, footage, music, etc.) for educational purposes, including student productions like History Fair; therefore, students need not seek formal permissions within the context of the competition. However, if the project is shown in non-educational settings, then permissions should be sought as appropriate.
  • Teachers may have additional rules/restrictions for the History Fair at individual schools. Students should comply with all rules set by their teacher.

Required Materials

All projects must include an Annotated Bibliography and Summary Statement. In the bibliography, each source should be annotated with a short description of how the student used that source. The bibliography must be divided between primary sources (sources from the time period or written by someone with firsthand knowledge) and secondary sources (sources written after the time period, typically by a historian). Bibliographies must follow either the Turabian or MLA style format. Include all sources that contributed useful information, perspectives, or visuals, but not necessarily every source consulted. Annotations may describe why students placed the source as primary/secondary if it is not immediately obvious; and, in the case of web sources, may also describe who sponsors the site. Bundle photos or other materials from the same collection into a single citation. Cite oral history transcripts, questionnaires, or other supplementary materials in the bibliography—do not provide copies of them. Students must acknowledge all sources used in the development of the entry in the annotated bibliography in order to avoid plagiarism.

The Summary Statement provides the project’s thesis, a summary of the argument, and information about the development of the project. The form is available on the History Fair website. Except for websites, the Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography should be printed on plain, white paper and stapled together. The Annotated Bibliography and Summary Statement are not included in the word count.


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