National History Day - California follows the rules established by the National History Day program and contest. Review the rules carefully to avoid disqualification for rules violations. Plagiarism or use of a previous year's project will result in immediate disqualification.

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New Rule Book for 2021-22

Includes New NHD-CA Podcast Category

This rule book takes effect in August 2021.

Overview of Rule Book Changes

Click image to download - 50 pg. 17MB PDF


Poster Process Paper Guide (grades 4 & 5)

Word Count

It is your responsibility to make sure your project is under the maximum amount of student composed words. Please refer to the rule book (page 21) for more information. Counts will be verified at competitions.

  • For additional information on citations listed in the NHD-CA Rulebook, please visit Purdue University OWL


As briefly outlined below, specific rules apply to each entry category:


  • Historical Paper: 1,500-2,500 word limit

  • Performance & Documentary: 10 minute time limit

  • Web Site: 1,200 student-composed word limit

  • Exhibit: 500 student-composed word limit,
    40” width x 30” depth x 72″ height limit

  • Poster (California category for 4th and 5th grade
    students): 30” x 40” size limit, Poster, 350 student-
    composed word limit

  • Podcast (California category) - 10 minutes for 6th-12th grade
    students / 
    6 minutes for 4th - 5th grade students.


General rules apply to all categories:


  • Annotated Bibliography: list of primary and secondary sources used in the project along with short descriptions of their use.

  • Each annotation must be no more than two or three sentences.

  • The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press or MLA Handbook by the Modern Association of America are accepted formats.

  • 500-word Process Paper describing how the student selected the topic, conducted their research, selected their category and created their project, and how the project relates to the NHD theme. Process papers are now required in all categories, including papers. Click here for a sample Process Paper.