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National History Day in Massachusetts

Annotated Bibliography, Process Paper, and Title Page

As part of the final project, all projects require an annotated bibliography, process paper, and title page.


"My go-to online citation machine is BibMe. Most of the required information is filled in automatically after writing the URL (of a website, online text, video, etc.), but it pays to double check. BibMe automatically orders the entries alphabetically and gives you a space to write an annotation right then and there, which you totally should do." 

-Nora's NHD Student Survival Guide

An annotated bibliography is required for all categories. Creating an annotated bibliography lets your reader know what sources you used in the creation of your project. Each citation also must include a brief annotation, which tells readers how you used the source. An annotated bibliography is crucial to the NHD process because it shows judges the scope and depth of your research. Please see the NHD Rule Book for detailed instructions on how to build your bibliography.

Your annotated bibliography must include the following:

  • List all sources that you consulted in developing your entry, whether you used them or not
  • Two sections: one for primary sources and one for secondary sources.
  • A 2-3 sentence citation which addresses the following questions:
    • How you used the source
    • How the source helped you to understand the topic
    • You can also explain why you classified the source as primary or secondary, if it's not clear

Your citations and bibliographic references must follow the most recent edition of either the Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA Handbook.  Your style must be consistent in all of your written material, regardless of which style you choose to use.

We recommend visiting the NHD Annotated Bibliography Page for detailed examples of how to put yours together. Another great resource is the Purdue Online Writing Lab, which includes detailed guides to MLA and Chicago citations.  Lastly, check out these videos from National History Day for step by step advice!


A process paper is required for projects in every category. The process paper must be 500 words or fewer, and must not include quotes, images, or captions. Words in the process paper are counted separately and are not part of the word count in the paper, exhibit, or website categories (NHD Rule Book).  As we will not be holding student interviews for our 2021 Virtual Competition, the process paper is a great place to share some of the information you want judges to know about you and your project!

Your process paper must answer the following questions:

  1. How did you choose your topic and how does it relate to the annual theme?
  2. How did you conduct your research?
  3. How did you create your project?
  4. What is your historical argument?
  5. In what ways is your topic significant in history?


A title page is required as the first page of written material in every category. See page 19 of the NHD Rule Book for examples of title pages for each category, and page 34 for rules about a website's home page. Your title page must include the following:

  • Title of your entry
  • Student name(s)
  • Contest division (Junior/Senior)
  • Project category (ex. individual exhibit)
  • Applicable word counts

Title pages should NOT include:

  • Your school name
  • Your teacher name
  • Your age or grade