Chicago Metro History Fair Website Rules PDF Print E-mail
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The website category is open to schools whose teachers have taken the CMHEC training.

Teachers are encouraged to contact CMHF 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 (2017 Update)

Download or read below:
website rules

Website Category Rules

The website category is the most interactive History Fair category. Using the NHD Website Builder 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.

  • Websites are created by individuals or groups of no more than five students.
  • All entries must be constructed through the NHD Website Builder or they will NOT be eligible to participate in History Fair. The URL must begin with eight numbers followed by “” (For example,
  • Website entries may contain no more than 1,500 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. All other text written by students, including explanatory or analytical captions, do count.
  • The Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography must be posted on the website, in a tab for Student Materials (or Reference). Post as PDFS—do not use Google Drive.
  • 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 images 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 Builder, 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 serves 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 recommended, but not required.
  • The website may contain multimedia clips (audio, visual, or both) that total no more than four minutes (i.e. 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 content.
  • Do not link to external websites, except for software plug-ins. If students use any media that requires a specific 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.
  • The entire site, including all media, must be no more than 100 MB.
  • 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, source 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 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.

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

  • Preview the website on several different computers and in several different browsers to make sure it can be viewed by the judges.


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 1,500 (10 point maximum penalty)
  • Exceeds multimedia time limit: Minus 1 point for each 30 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

  • Projects that are not created within the NHD Website Builder will be disqualified. Teachers must submit the URL, student email address, username, and password for each project advancing to the History Fair by the registration deadline or the website may not be judged.
  • EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! When students have completed the website, make sure that to hit PUBLISH to ensure that your most recent revisions are visible to the viewer. (The students may see saved changes on the screen, but they are not visible to the viewer until it is published.)
  • Students will be blocked from editing their site during judging. It 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.]

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spend time considering the overall organization of the website and how to best construct the navigational menu. Organize on paper before touching a keyboard.

Rules for All Categories

All History Fair projects must comply with these rules AND the specific rules for each category which follow.

  • Topics must connect with Chicago or Illinois history in order to advance to the state contest. Non-Illinois topics are only permitted at the regional and finals competitions.
  • Projects competing to advance to National History Day must connect to Chicago/Illinois history and use the NHD theme.
  • Projects registered as “NHD eligible” will be assessed on how well their project integrates the NHD theme.
  • Students may 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—will 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 production of their own project, as well as operating their own equipment and materials, including any narration. 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. Materials created by others for use in the entry violate this rule.
  • Each project is required to have a Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography. [See “Required Materials” for more details.]
  • Word counts must be provided for exhibits, websites, and papers. Time lengths must be provided for documentaries and performances.
  • Plagiarism is unacceptable, and constitutes grounds for disqualification. [See for further guidance.]
  • Items potentially dangerous in any way—such as weapons, firearms, animals, etc.—are strictly prohibited.
  • Do not place school name on projects, nor give in interviews.
  • 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. Website and paper interviews are optional.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Required Materials

All projects must include an Annotated Bibliography and Summary Statement. Bibliographies must follow either the Turabian or MLA style format. Turabian is preferred. 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).

Students must acknowledge all sources used in the development of the project in the Annotated Bibliography in order to avoid plagiarism.

Include all sources that contributed useful information, perspectives, or visuals. Annotations may explain why students placed the source as primary/secondary if it is not immediately obvious; and, in the case of web sources, note its credibility. 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.

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, where the Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography should be printed on plain, white paper and stapled together and brought to the event with the project. The Annotated Bibliography and Summary Statement are not included in the word count.


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