Your title is one of the best ways to tell your judge what is to be judged. Examples:
Good – Spindle Spun Wool and Making a Scarf from 10th Century Norway
Bad – My Wool Project
In the first, you tell the judge to review the spinning and the method of the scarf construction.
In the second, your judge doesn’t know you didn’t buy the yarn from the Yarn Barn and may overlook your spinning even if you talk about how it was spun in period.
Who, What, Why, When, Where and How?
These are the questions your documentation needs to answer. This can be a simple list answering these questions, or a multi-page document. As a best practice, the larger the competition the more documentation will be desired. A local competition can have one page summary, but Kingdom A&S should include multiple pages and citations. The average is 5 pages of text and citations and 10 pages with pictures and text and citations. A summary at the front of a longer document will allow the casual competition attendee understand your work to do a quick but informed viewing.
Who? – Vikings
What? – Wool Scarf
Why? – Because it was Cold
When? – in the 9th Century
Where? – In Norway
How? – They spun the wool on a spindle, and then used nalbinding to make a scarf.
Sometimes you will not be able to do the period method due to cost, availability or hazard. If you want to make a dodo feather, mercury cured, period felt hat, you will have to make some substitutions. Otherwise, you will mercury poison yourself and try to source extinct bird feathers. Likewise, if you want to make cloth of gold, then the gold would be cost prohibitive. Let your judge know if you substituted an item for another. If there were multiple options in period, note why you chose the one you did.
Documentation will follow the same guidelines as papers written in the average American high school. You should have a thesis, or hypothesis, evidence or information and a conclusion. Some people learn better visually. If your project has a lot of steps, providing a step by step pictorial of your process, your judge may better understand your methods.
Points are expected to be cited in your paper at the higher level competitions. Avoid websites like Wikipedia that give only general information. Scholarly works from universities and other experts are the best sources. Your local librarian can assist you with finding resources as well as sites such as books.google.com. MLS is the documentation style most familiar to judges. However all formal citation methods are welcome. It is a best practice to list the style of citation you are using to avoid confusion. If you are a user of Microsoft Word, citation formats can be automated for you. See add a citation and create a bibliography for more information.
It only needs to be as long as you need to cover the topic. Someone will have to read it in a limited amount of time. If it is getting over 20 pages double spaced, consider narrowing your focus. Pay careful attention to staying on your hypothesis, or thesis. If you get off on a tangent, you can include this documentation in an appendix to keep your primary documentation concise and to the point. Often judges have to read your documentation the day of judging. If you want to talk about food served at feasts, when your documentation is for dances done on feast days, and appendix will help those who want to read further.