Based on a theme selected annually by NHD, students in grades 6 to 12 use primary and secondary sources to research a topic relating to local, national, or world history. The 2020–21 theme is "Communication in History." After analyzing and interpreting the information they have gathered, students express their findings in a paper, exhibit, performance, documentary, or website. They may work individually or in groups of up to five members except in the historical paper category, which is open only to individuals. Students' entries are judged in two divisions—Junior (grades 6–8) and Senior (grades 9–12)—during various levels of competition. County winners in each category and division advance to the state contest in Tallahassee in May. First- and second-place state winners in each category and division earn the right to represent Florida at the National History Day competition in College Park, Maryland, in June.
More than 55,000 students in 32 counties participated in the 2018–19 Florida History Day. More than 1,100 youths registered for the state contest in May, and 63 students from 15 counties represented Florida at the National History Day competition.
Participating counties pay an annual fee of $100, which enables all public, private, charter, and homeschool students to compete. Each county has a local coordinator, who oversees the school and district contests in her/his area. The statewide coordinator assists local efforts by preparing contest and curriculum materials, maintaining a website, providing training workshops for teachers and students, administering the state competition, and coordinating Florida's involvement in the national program.