2011-12 Packet Submission Guidelines


Document navigation:

Editing teams

The editors for the 2011-2012 ACF tournaments are found in the table below, along with the deadlines for each one. All packets should be submitted to the head editor at the address listed in the table . A good subject line for an e-mail with your packet submission attached would be “[Tournament Name] Packet Submission: [Your team name here].” E.g., “ACF Regionals 2009: Northwestern A.” You can also use these e-mail addresses to bid on hosting an ACF tournament. Full information on hosting is here

Tournament ACF Fall 2011 ACF Regionals 2012 ACF Nationals 2012
Date November 5, 2011 February 18, 2012(Tentative) April 21, 2012
Head editor Carsten Gehring Trevor Davis Jonathan Magin
Send packets to octagonjoe@gmail.com thebokonon@gmail.com jonathan.magin@gmail.com
-$50 deadline September 11, 2011 December 26, 2011 February 6, 2012
-$25 deadline
September 25, 2011 January 8, 2012 February 20, 2012
No-penalty deadline
October 9, 2011 January 22, 2012 March 6, 2012
+25 deadline October 16, 2011 January 29, 2012 March 13, 2012
+50 deadline October 23, 2011 February 5, 2012 March 20, 2012

* Discounts in red are for optional packets. If you have any questions about this please read on.

All the deadline days are Sundays. Packets must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on the specified days to count for that day’s discount.

For ACF Nationals 2012, a discount of $100 will be offered for packets that are submitted by January 23, 2012.

Who is required to submit packets?

Any team with at least one person on it who played a regular, collegiate, academic quizbowl tournament (either as a college student or as a high school student) prior to September 1, 2010 is required to submit a packet in order to participate in an ACF tournament in 2011-2012. All ACF tournaments, NAQT Division I or Division II SCT, NAQT ICT, and typical academic invitationals count as regular collegiate academic tournaments for this purpose, but trash or “hybrid” tournaments, College Bowl/HCASC, and tournaments played on NAQT “invitational series” questions do not. This test is applied to each individual team, not to your school’s contingent as a whole. If, for example, your school sends three teams, and your A and C teams have a person who played college tournaments in 2006, but your B team does not, then only your A and C teams need to write packets. If you are unsure about whether you are required to write a packet, then please ask the appropriate editor at the address above. Exceptional cases, such as having one person on your team who played some tournaments ten years ago and is now returning to school, will be evaluated by the editors.

Teams required to submit packets who do not submit one by the final deadline will be dropped from the tournament. The editors may grant one or more 24-hour extensions to the final deadline at an additional penalty of $10 per day. However, what will certainly not be allowed is for an experienced team to simply not write a packet at all. You may not “pay your way out of writing.”

Teams comprised entirely of players who did not play a regular collegiate academic tournament prior to September 1, 2010 do not have to submit packets. However, you have the option of submitting a packet if you want to. For such teams, submitting a packet by the normal -$25 deadline will get you a -$50 discount, and submitting by the normal no-penalty deadline will get you a -$25 discount. Optional packets will not be accepted past the no-penalty deadline.

Packets should not be exposed to anyone outside of the specific team that is writing the packet; in all likelihood, your school’s A team will play on the packet written by your school’s B team, et cetera, so it is imperative that questions be kept blind to all competitors. This strictly applies to all potential players at the tournament – if you are on the B team, do not write questions for the A team’s packet, even if you offer to sit out when that packet is read.

See below for additional, but easy-to-avoid, packet penalties.

Tournament fees and discounts:

Base fee $120/team $120 for one team from a school, $240 for two teams from a school, etc.
Buzzer systems -$5 each No discount for broken buzzers; no maximum.
Staffers -$10 each No maximum.
Laptop -$5 each To encourage sites to run digital tournaments and keep stats properly, all hosts will be required to offer laptop discounts. Maximum 1 per team.
Travel -$10 -$10 for travelling over 200 miles (one way), -$20 for travelling over 400 miles, etc.
International -$20 For teams representing schools located in a different country than the tournament host.
New ACF teams -$25 For schools who did not send a team to ACF Fall, Regionals, or Nationals between September 2009 and August 2011, and have no one on the team(s) claiming this discount who played those tournaments for another school.
New quizbowl teams -$75 For schools who did not send a team to any regular collegiate academic tournament since September 2009, and have no one on the team(s) claiming this discount who played those tournaments for another school. May be combined with new ACF team discount for a total new-team discount of $100.
Plus or minus any applicable packet discounts/penalties as described in the above table.

Buzzer, staffer, laptop, travel, and international discounts apply to your school’s total fee, not to each individual team’s fee. The minimum total fee for a school is $0.

Discounts for shorthanded teams in financial duress:

For teams which meet all of the following conditions, further discounts are available:

  • A team of less than 3 people
  • The team is being funded directly by its members (rather than by its school or by a team budget)
  • If required to write a packet, the team writes a packet before the no-penalty deadline and it is of acceptable quality

Under those circumstances, solo teams will get a discount of -$80 and two-person teams will get a discount of -$60. The teams will still be eligible for further discounts down to the minimum $0 fee.

Teams who are unable to pay the fee on the day of the tournament but do not qualify for the above discount may negotiate for delayed payment (of the full fee) with the editors and their site’s tournament director. It is the policy of ACF that the inability to come up with money by the tournament date will never exclude a team from playing in a tournament, as long as we can trust you to pay eventually (in practice, this usually means “if you have not had issues with paying what you owe in the past”).

Additional packet penalties:

If your packet deviates in a major way from the formatting guidelines (random tabs and page breaks throughout, questions not sorted by category, every question has answers without the required part being indicated, etc) you will incur a $30 penalty on top of any other fees or discounts.

If your packet has a large accumulation of minor deviations from the formatting guidelines (ten or more examples of no underlining, bonus parts preceded by letters or parentheses instead of bracketed numbers, bonus leadins or “for 10 points” not in proper format, etc) you will incur a $15 penalty.

If your packet has absolute compliance with the formatting guidelines you will get a $5 discount.

Formatting packets on the editing end because you chose not to follow the guidelines is necessary in order to make the packets clear for moderators, but it’s also a HUGE timesink and there’s no reason you can’t do it properly while writing and leave us the time to edit the content of your questions instead. Please observe the formatting guidelines below and don’t make the editor charge you a penalty for this. A few minor problems with formatting will not incur a penalty – we are not looking to screw anyone with the formatting penalties, and will reserve them only for packets that really cause headaches.

If you submit a packet with any question in it that the editors can prove you plagiarized from an existing source, your packet fee will be +$200, your packet will not be used, and you will bring shame upon your entire family. Please read more about plagiarism here.

Prohibited types of questions:
This is certainly not intended to penalize new teams for writing weak questions in general, but rather penalize people for writing specific types of questions which no one should be writing, ever, and which are specifically prohibited here.

If you write a spelling question, that’s +$25 (no more than one penalty of this kind will be charged even if you write multiple spelling questions, but you most certainly should not be doing that). Spelling questions are completely archaic in quizbowl today and reflect very lazy writing, yet at least one was submitted to a tournament recently, so we want to remind everyone that there should never, ever be a question asking people to spell anything.

If you write a question with clues or phrasing from Wikipedia that cannot be verified with any other source, that’s $25 (no more than one penalty of this kind will be charged even if you write multiple questions out of Wikipedia, however your packet will likely be returned if you do that; see below).

If you write a “given the x, name the y” binary matching bonus with no prose clues at all, that’s +$5 for each bonus of that kind. This could potentially be charged for as many as all 24 of your bonuses, but, of course, you can avoid it by not writing these bonuses. See below for details on what exactly is meant by this type of question. These questions are prohibited because they are extremely boring, especially to teams who do not know the answer. Write bonuses that maintain the attention of all teams and educate those who do not know about the bonus topic.

If you write a 5-10-15 bonus, that’s also +$5 for each bonus of that kind. Once more, this could potentially be charged for however many bonuses you write in this way, and once more, you should avoid this penalty by not writing any such bonuses. 5-10-15s shift the balance of rewarded skills too much towards knowing “hard parts” and depress scoring in games between teams of average ability, and should simply be changed to 10-10-10s.

There is no reason any team should end up being charged a penalty for the above types of specifically prohibited questions, since this section spells out exactly how to avoid that. The editor assures you that if you are just an inexperienced writer submitting bad questions because of said inexperience, we will not try to gouge you out of money, and indeed will appreciate the effort you put into writing questions when you are unfamiliar with doing so. The only questions that will face financial surcharges are the specifically prohibited kinds above.

In summary:

  • Major formatting problems: +$30
  • A large amount of minor formatting problems: +$15
  • Perfect formatting: -$5
  • Plagiarism in packet: +$200, packet rejected, elaborate Yiddish curse placed upon you
  • Any spelling question in packet: +$25
  • Any clue with Wikipedia as its only source: +$25
  • Binary matching bonus: +$5 each
  • 5-10-15 bonus: +$5 each

Writing philosophy

Consult individual tournament announcements for further difficulty guidelines (generally, ACF Regionals is a “normal difficulty” tournament, ACF Fall is quite easy). The below tips apply to all tournaments.


Dead tossups are the enemy of having fun at quizbowl tournaments, so above all, do not do not DO NOT write tossups on answers that are obscure (for ACF Fall and Regionals. For Nationals, some more leeway is permitted in the sense that you do not have to reasonably expect that everyone will know the answer, but you still should not write for only the top 3 teams.) Use easy answers, and make your early-in-the-question clues hard to provide the challenge, rather than using challenging answers for tossups. Ideally, there should be almost no tossups in the tournament which go unanswered at the end. If you want to ask about something harder, use it as one part of a bonus that also contains two easier parts, not as a tossup answer or as the subject for an entire bonus.

Use interesting clues throughout your tossup. Avoid writing tossups which “fall off the difficulty cliff” before the “For 10 points” – e.g., if you write a tossup on Pietro Mascagni, don’t put in five lines of superhard material followed by “For 10 points, name this composer of Cavalliera Rusticana.” Either write on something else, or use the “in one of his operas, such-and-such happens” clue style to provide useful middle clues. All tossups should have those middle clues, not just a sudden dropoff in difficulty at the end. In a game between two good teams, almost no tossups should go past “For 10 points” before someone buzzes.

Bonus questions

For bonus parts, prose clues are greatly preferred to abrupt phrases or lists. Bonuses composed entirely of sentence fragments, such as the “given the holiday, name the religion in which it is celebrated” type of bonus questions, are prohibited and will incur penalties (see above). You can write the same bonus as “name these religions” and work the same clues into some more aesthetically pleasing complete sentences.

This is what is meant by a prohibited binary matching bonus:

Name these Ernest Hemingway works from characters, for 10 points each.
[10] Santiago, Manolin, a shark
ANSWER: The Old Man and the Sea
[10] Margaret, Robert Wilson, a lion
ANSWER: The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
[10] Richard Cantwell, The Grand Maestro, Renata
ANSWER: Across the River and Into the Trees

This is what you should write instead:

Name these Ernest Hemingway works, for 10 points each.
[10] Santiago, who has not caught a fish in eighty-five days, wrestles with an enormous marlin only to have it eaten by sharks during the trip back to Havana’s harbor, in this late novella.
ANSWER: The Old Man and the Sea
[10] In this short story, a former cosmetics model threatens to leave her husband, who was revealed as a coward during a lion hunt. Margaret eventually shoots the title character during an encounter with a buffalo, and Robert Wilson approves.
ANSWER: The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
[10] Richard Cantwell shoots ducks on the way to Venice’s Gritti Palace Hotel, then Cantwell and Countess Renata get it on in a gondola. After buying a brooch, Cantwell joins the Order of Brusadelli and dies of a heart attack at the end of this novel.
ANSWER: Across the River and Into the Trees

See how the second example teaches something and recaps interesting parts of the story so that even people who don’t know the answers get something out of the question? This is what you should write. Notice that you can still incorporate most or all the clues from the bad bonus in example 1 into the better clues from example 2, so writing good questions does not have to mean writing harder questions. Note that “Given a line from a poem, name the poem” with no other clues still counts as a binary matching bonus and should not be written.

Furthermore, please use actual clues in your bonus leadins whenever possible. For example, if you are writing a bonus about Chandragupta, but can’t use his name in the leadin because it is the first answer, do not write “Answer the following about an Indian ruler for 10 points each.” instead, write “He was the founder of the Mauryan dynasty. For 10 points each:” and include a second clue in the first part. This keeps people from being bored by filler words and provides extra space for more clues, thus making it more likely that players will get questions right.

Write nearly all of your bonus questions as above: 3 parts worth 10 points each, with one part being no harder than a tossup answer, another being slightly more challenging, and the remaining part being harder still, though still something you would expect a person well-read in the subject of the bonus to know in five seconds. If you are unsure about the difficulty of a particular question, then you should probably err on the side of easier and write on something else instead. You may, very occasionally, write a bonus with four parts, two worth 5 and two worth 10, if this seems necessary to you for some reason. The 30-20-10 format and other multi-part, single-answer bonus questions are not permitted in ACF, nor is the 5-10-15 format. The 5-10-15 specifically just has no sensible place in quizbowl and will incur a financial penalty as described above; just write the same question as a 10-10-10.

ACF does not use any other aberrant bonus formats such as listing six things for 5 points each, but if you come up with a really great bonus in such a format, it will constitute an acceptable part of your packet and the editors will consider using it. However, all bonus scoring schemes must have a one-to-one relationship between each answer and a certain amount of points – ACF will never use bonuses of the “name four things, 5 points each and an extra 10 for all correct” type. Bonuses that involve putting things in any sort of correct order or rank, regardless of the scoring scheme, are prohibited.

Additional help with writing:

Jerry Vinokurov has put together an article which immerses newcomers in the basic principles of good writing. The Collegiate Quiz Bowl Packet Archive contains a variety of tournament sets that follow the above principles Other tournaments to consult as writing models include 2008 ACF Fall, 2009 ACF Fall, 2008 ACF Regionals, 2010 ACF Regionals, 2009 ACF Nationals, and 2010 ACF Nationals. While all of those tournaments will give you stylistic models for general use, you should adjust the difficulty of your questions to that desired by the particular event: ACF Fall should be of a comparable difficulty to ACF Fall of past years. ACF Regionals should be comparable to Regionals 2008 or NAQT Sectionals. ACF Nationals should be harder than Regionals, but closer to the 2006, 2007, or 2008 Nationals than to the 2005 edition. Any tournament editor will answer further questions about writing.

Clues and Answers to Avoid:

You may find it useful to review Subash Maddipoti’s Ten Tips For Question Writing. Keep in mind this important point from the above document:

You should omit useless information such as “His intermittent surrealist depictions and use of vivid color belied the realism and monochromatic pigments that the public associated with him.” This sort of knowledge is of course very important to fully understanding whatever painter we’re talking about in a classroom context, but phrased in that manner, it simply does not help anyone in a match get the question, no matter how much he or she knows about art. Make sure every clue in your tossups is a specific, helpful, and uniquely identifying piece of information about the answer.

Please apply that point to ALL of your questions and omit useless nonclues like “the protagonist of this novel is a thoughtful, sensitive man hardened by circumstance” or “this psychologist graduated from secondary school in London and briefly studied at Oxford.” Clues which point to dozens of possible answers, rather than one, or which are just boring biographical details with no relevance to the reason that the answer is important are what we mean by “nonclues.”

In particular, please do not tell us where or when someone was born, what their father’s profession was, or where they went to college. We don’t care and neither do the people who will be playing your questions – instead, talk about interesting, memorable, and unique things that this person did in their field of prominence.

Do not put useless phrases like “from clues” or “from descriptions” in your bonus leadins. For example, write “name these British novels for 10 points each;” don’t write “name these British novels from clues for 10 points each.” It is understood that the bonus will contain clues and that players are not expected to just divine three works of English literature upon hearing the bonus leadin, so don’t waste time and space putting in those phrases.

Avoid using words such as “famously” “well known” or “best” in your questions. These are subjective and unhelpful terms. Replace them with specific, concrete information about the answer.

Remember that the first instance of any pronoun (he, she, it, they) or form of the word “this” in a tossup must always refer only to the answer, and subsequent pronouns and demonstrative adjectives should be thoroughly scrutinized for any potential to mislead players.

Alternate Answers:

Remember to include these forms of alternate answers:

  • the reverse names for Supreme Court cases; also, in cases where neither party name is “the United States” or the name of a state, one party name is sufficient to get the question right, and the underlining should reflect this.
  • the original-language title for any work of literature/art not originally in English
  • the original-language title for people with descriptive words in their names
  • the birth name of people who are well-known by a pseudonym
  • both formal and native language names for countries as alternate answers (both Britannica and the CIA Factbook are quick places to find all the names used for a country)
  • both the Pinyin and Wade-Giles forms of Romanized Chinese names and other Chinese words

When including alternate answer notes, omit needlessly long phrases such as “also accept;” simply write “or.” Do not include insulting notes such as “begrudgingly accept” or “accept from people who can’t speak French.” Either an answer is acceptable, or it is not; no further commentary is desired. Follow the below models and use only “or” and “prompt on” as appropriate for alternate answers that are acceptable at any point in the question.


ANSWER: Griswold v. Connecticut [or Connecticut v. Griswold]
ANSWER: Romer v. Evans [or Evans v. Romer]
ANSWER: The Elixir of Love [or L’Elisir d’amore]
ANSWER: Selim I [or Selim the Grim; or Selim Yavuz; prompt on “Selim”]
ANSWER: John Wayne [or Marion RobertMorrison]
ANSWER: Republic of Azerbaijan [or Azarbaycan Respublikasi]
ANSWER: Cixi (see-shee) [or Tzuhsi; or Xiaoqin; or Xianhuanghou]

Use “accept ___ before it is read” when a potential alternate answer is used in the question. Do not use asterisks within the question text to denote this.


ANSWER: George Orwell [accept Eric Blair before it is read]

Additional notes on answer lines:

For the moderator’s convenience, list answers in the expected order of likelihood of hearing them from a team (this usually means English titles first). Remember to underline answers in accordance with the ACF rules on required parts; specifically, you should usually not underline a leading “The” or its equivalent in other languages. Also note that it is not necessary to include phonetically identical alternate spellings on the answer line.

Question length

The edited packets for most ACF events will have tossups of no more than 6-7 lines and bonus parts of no more than 2 (in 10-point Times New Roman with one-inch margins). You should submit slightly longer questions so that we can whittle out excess words or remove a repeated clue and end up with questions of the desired final length. One or two tossups of 4-5 lines are acceptable, but a whole packet of them is probably not deep enough. Likewise, writing more than a handful of tossups that are longer than 9 lines is pointless, since we will be eliminating a lot of your clues if you do that to make all tossups fit under the final length cap.

Example tossup construction:

For an example of what we mean by interesting and useful clues: a tossup on Henry VIII should start off talking about his specific relationships to some lesser-known historical incidents and people, such as:

Agents of this king executed Richard Whiting at Toe Hill. Earlier, he joined Aragon’s war with France, winning great popularity when his general, the Earl of Surrey, defeated a Scottish force at Flodden Field.

The question should then talk about some material likely to be encountered in an undergraduate course dealing with Henry VIII but still lesser-known to the casual person:

Prior to authorizing the Ten Articles, he sponsored the construction of such ships as the Mary Rose. He also suppressed the Pilgrimage of Grace and wrestled with Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

Then, the tossup should go on to hint at what he is best-known for with clues like

He attempted to persuade Pope Clement VII to intercede against his own violation of Leviticus, despite earlier using Deuteronomy to win the support of Julius II.

Finally, the question should conclude with some names widely associated with Henry and the giveaway clue:

His chancellors Thomas Wolsey and Thomas More both fell out of his good graces, leading to the martyrdom of More during this man’s creation of the Church of England. For 10 points, name this father of Elizabeth I and husband to Catherine Parr, Anne Boleyn, and four other women.

This question rewards deep knowledge and teaches something interesting to those who didn’t know much about Henry VIII before, yet it is still, ultimately, a tossup on a very well known answer which presumably every team can get by the last clue. Such tossups are what we are looking for in your packet submissions. Note also that the tossup, when put together, is noticeably longer than the 6-line cap we will be enforcing on the edited questions – again, please submit your questions this way so that we can edit them into very dense 6-line tossups for the final packets.

A question on Henry VIII which relies on things like birth dates or quotations is very boring and is probably not usable, while a question which starts off saying something like “He was a longtime rival of the Papacy and finally took drastic action against it” encourages wild guessing based on minimal knowledge and does not allow players with deeper knowledge of the subject to get the tossup first, and is not usable for those reasons. Similarly, literature questions should rely on plot scenarios and character names first, less so on rote association of titles with authors, in order to reward people who have actually read the books. Myth questions that are on traditional topics such as specific deities should talk about interesting anecdotes involving the figure, not just be a boring list of stock clues like “his symbol was a hexahedron made of onyx, his temple was at Rondopolis, his head looked like a badger’s.” If such clues are the most well known thing about the figure in question, they do have a place at the end of a tossup, but they should not comprise the whole question. Similar principles apply to all categories.

Questions on people have a major place in the tournament but should be balanced by questions on works, events, concepts, etc.


Each submitted packet should have 24 tossups and 24 bonuses according to the following distribution:

  • Literature 5/5
  • History 5/5
  • Science 5/5
  • Religion, Mythology and Philosophy 3/3
  • Fine Arts 3/3
  • Social Science 1/1
  • Geography 1/1
  • Trash, current events, or your choice 1/1

More specific requirements for each category are as follows.

Literature 5/5

  • American literature: 1/1
  • British literature: 1/1
  • European literature from 500 CE onwards: 1/1
  • World (anything not covered above and not originally written in English): 1/0 or 0/1
  • Anything you want, including ancient European literature, more of any category above, or combinations of categories above: 1/2 or 2/1

Vary lit questions across time periods. The editors understand that a lot of important literature comes from the twentieth century, so feel free to write a large amount of your questions on post-1900 literature, but do not write every single one of your questions on that period, and do not write more than 1 question on very recent (post-1990) literature. Please remember to include several questions on forms other than novels, and include both several questions on authors’ general body of work and several questions on specific works.

History 5/5

  • American history: 1/1 (two different time periods and/or two different historical approaches)
  • European, Canadian, and Australian history: 3/3 (out of these six questions, 1 should be on classical history, 1 on British history, and 3 on continental Europe from three different post-classical time periods. The remaining question can be another British history question, another continental Europe question, or a question on Canadian or Australian history. )
  • World history: 1/1 (from two different large areas of the world besides those covered above)

No more than 4 of your 10 total history questions should be predominately about battles, wars, or people known primarily for their military accomplishments.

Less experienced writers are discouraged from writing tossups on Chinese dynasties, as such questions are difficult to write well. Questions on interesting, unique, and accessible things from East Asian history are appreciated and encouraged as replacements for such dynasty questions.

Science 5/5

  • Biology 1/1
  • Chemistry 1/1
  • Physics 1/1
  • Math or computer science: 1 question
  • Astronomy, earth science/geology, or other science not covered above: 1 question
  • Any science: 1/1 (you can write a math question here if you wrote computer science above, or earth science here if you wrote astronomy above, but don’t write a second question on any of the “minor” fields. You can also just write more biology, chemistry, or physics here.)

Less experienced writers are discouraged from writing tossups on chemical elements, programming languages, or subatomic particles, as such questions are difficult to write well. Within “any science,” a maximum of 1 question on the history of science is allowed. Questions on famous experiments which focus on the scientific principles at work are considered straight science rather than science history, so you should feel free to write such questions for the relevant category. Questions which straddle the line between biology and chemistry, or chemistry and physics, should be reserved for the “any science” section of the science distribution, so that clear-cut answers can be used in the parts formally marked for the three large branches.

Religion, Mythology and Philosophy 3/3

  • Religion: 1/1 (different religions)
  • Mythology: 1/1 (different myth systems)
  • Philosophy: 1/1 (different parts of philosophical history)

Less experienced writers are discouraged from writing questions on pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, as such questions are difficult to write well.

Please write between 1 and 2 total questions on distinctly non-Western things for the overall RMP category.

You may write about events which straddle the line between history and religion (e.g., the Council of Chalcedon) for either history or religion, but don’t write about religious history for both categories. A question which could be considered either religion or myth (e.g., Brahma) can be counted as one of your religion questions.

Fine Arts 3/3

    Painting: 1/1 Classical music excluding opera: 1/1 Everything else: 1/1 (opera, sculpture, architecture, dance, jazz, photography, art film, or other arts not covered under painting or classical music)

Please pick one largely visual category and one largely auditory category for your “everything else” subjects – e.g, pick jazz and photography, or opera and architecture, but not opera and jazz.

Social Science 1/1

Possible topics for this category include economics, psychology, sociology, linguistics, anthropology, political science, social criticism, and law. The two questions should not come from the same field of study. Questions on Supreme Court cases go under history; other law questions may go here.

Geography 1/1

Do not write both questions on the same kind of political or physical feature, such as rivers, bodies of water, mountains, cities etc. Also, please do not write both questions on the same area of the world. Ethnic groups can be geography; languages are more likely social science.

Trash, current events, or your choice 1/1

You can write anything you wish here except for topics included in the other broad categories above, or you can write questions which mix categories here. If you write two trash questions then they should not be from the same general category (e.g. one should be on sports and one on TV, or one on music and one on video games; don’t write both on visual media or both on sports).


Remember that if you don’t meet these formatting requirements, we will charge you a penalty, so pay close attention to this section. We are aware that these are very specific requirements and may seem like overkill, but when multiplied by 10 or 20 packets, any slight variations in formatting become a major distraction from the kind of work we really need to be doing on the actual content of the questions, so we would really appreciate everyone following the formatting guidelines religiously.

Packets must be submitted as some sort of file that can with certainty be opened properly on any computer running Microsoft Word 2002 and can support all of the formatting requirements below. I.e.: submitting them as .doc files, .rtf files, or an exact equivalent to either is strongly preferred. Packets submitted as Word 2007 .docx files are NOT acceptable since those files cannot be opened on older versions of Word. If any of the editors cannot open your packet on the first try, it will be returned and you will have to fix it before it is considered submitted for fee purposes. The filename should be the name of your school, with the letter designating your specific team if your school is sending more than one. USC.doc, UCLA B.doc, or Irvine A.doc are examples of file names we wish to see.

Please consult the sample properly formatted packet. Make your questions look as much like that, aesthetically, as possible, while using the appropriate difficulty level for the particular tournament.

Everything in your packet should be in Times New Roman font of size 10. Do not number anything and do not use any tabs, autoformatting, or page breaks at any point in the document.

At the top of the packet, put, in boldface, the tournament name (e.g, ACF Fall 2008 or ACF Regionals 2009), followed on the next line by your school name. Be sure to designate whether it is the A team, B team, etc if your school is sending multiple teams. This should be followed by the names of all people who contributed to the packet and/or will be playing on that team. Thus, the top of every packet should look something like this:

ACF Regionals 2009
Packet by Reno Tech B Team (Travis Junior, Trudy Weigel, S. Jones, Jim Dangle)

Format your tossups like this:

Toward the end of its first act, one of the characters sings “I Know You Hate Me” after being whipped by the protagonist’s wife. A peasant sings “Why Hast Thou Taught Me” to woo the hand of that wife, who is known as Columbine in Act Two. After Beppe sings an ode to Columbine, the protagonist confronts Nedda about Silvio, and when she brushes him off he stabs her, leading Tonio to end the opera with the line “La Commedia Finita.” For 10 points, name this opera by Ruggierio Leoncavallo, whose first act ends with the melancholy “Vesti La Giubba” and whose protagonist is a very sad clown.
ANSWER: I Pagliacci [or The Clowns]

Note that:

  • The last sentence begins with “For 10 points” (not FTP or For ten points) followed by a comma and a space (not by a colon, a dash, or nothing).
  • The ANSWER: begins a new line, is in all caps, and is followed by a colon and a space.
  • The required part of the answer is underlined and emboldened.
  • The instructions for prompts, alternate acceptable answers, or other additional information for the moderator are contained within brackets.
  • The question text DOES NOT begin with a number or an indentation.
  • The titles of overall works such as books, plays, operas, and paintings are italicized, and the title of works contained within larger collections, such as short stories, chapter titles, and songs from operas are contained within quotes.

Format your bonus questions like these:

It was a response to the prejudiced selections of the official Salon de Paris. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this art exhibition which was first held in 1863.
ANSWER: Salon des Refuses [or Salon of the Rejected]
[10] One of the prominent paintings exhibited in the Salon des Refusés was this huge Edouard Manet painting depicting a nude woman sitting between two clothed men in an outdoor setting.
ANSWER: Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe [or Luncheon on the Grass; or Picnic on the Grass]
[10] The Salon des Refuses also featured The White Girl, a painting by this American artist. The painting is also known as his Symphony in White, Number 1.
ANSWER: James McNeill Whistler

Name these places that one might see on a peaceful trip down the Danube, for 10 points each.
[10] The Danube originates in this wooded mountain area in the far southwest of Germany which extends from Säckingen to Durlach.
ANSWER: Black Forest [or Schwarzwald]
[10] Before emptying into the Black Sea, the river passes through this capital of Slovakia.
ANSWER: Bratislava
[10] The Rhine-Main-Danube canal allows continuous travel from the Danube to the Rhine Delta, which is found on the North Sea at this city, the second most populous in the Netherlands and the busiest port in the world.
ANSWER: Rotterdam

Note that:

  • The ANSWER: begins a new line, is in all caps, and is followed by a colon and a space.
  • The required part of the answer is underlined and emboldened.
  • The instructions for prompts, alternate acceptable answers, or other additional information for the moderator are contained within brackets and separated from each other by semicolons.
  • Each bonus part begins on a new line with the numerical point value of that part in brackets.
  • The titles of overall works such as books, plays, operas, and paintings are italicized, and the title of works contained within larger collections, such as short stories, chapter titles, and songs from operas are contained within quotes.
  • The bonus instruction indicates that the three parts are valued “for 10 points each” and either forms a general instruction for the whole bonus (in which case it ends with a period) or provides a specific clue pertaining to the first part of the bonus (in which case it ends with a colon).

Examples of the two different types of bonus instructions:

Name these novels by Charlotte Bronte, for 10 points each.
Identify these characters from Plato’s Symposium, for 10 points each.
Name these authors of works set in the Netherlands, for 10 points each.

He drew a perfect circle to demonstrate his artistic prowess to the Pope. For 10 points each:
The Longmen Grottoes and White Horse Temple are among the religious artifacts found here. For 10 points each:
According to Hesiod, she is the daughter of Ceto and Phorcys. For 10 points each:

If you write any bonus questions using different point schemes, then make sure to clearly reflect how the points will be awarded in the bonus instruction. If you use a “for the stated points” bonus format, then the value of each part should be indicated both in the brackets and in the text of the bonus parts themselves, like so:

His essay “Some Remarks on Logical Form” and a preface he wrote for a dictionary for elementary schools are collected in hisPhilosophical Occasions. For the stated points:
[10] For 10, name this twentieth-century philosopher of language, whose aphorisms are collected in such books as Culture and Value andZettel.
ANSWER: Ludwig Wittgenstein
[5] For 5, at the end of this first book by Wittgenstein, he asserts that anyone who has understood the book’s propositions can now discard them as one would discard a ladder after climbing it.
ANSWER: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
[10] For 10, Wittgenstein’s most important later book is this work which claims that concepts denote “family resemblances” between things and argues that there cannot be a “private language.”
ANSWER: Philosophical Investigations
[5] For 5, Wittgenstein once threatened this author of The Open Society and its Enemies and proponent of falsificationism with a fireplace poker.
ANSWER: Karl Raimund Popper

Standardization of numbers:

To make all the packets uniform in appearance, please display all point values and years in questions as digits, but all other numbers as prose words (e.g. “twenty-two years”, “a million dollars” and “fourteen hundred casualties,” but “For 10 points” and “1976.”) Use the BCE/CE system instead of the BC/AD system for years, and remember to always include the correct designation alongside the years when there is the possibility of confusion.

Other notes on formatting and grammar:

Please delete all of your internal notes from the packet before submitting it. Editors do not want to see stuff like “lit: american (FF)” scattered throughout the document.

Pay attention to parallel structure and the antecedents of pronouns. Some rules of grammar can and should be ignored in order to make your questions pyramidal and concise, but those two are actually very helpful in making your tossups understandable. When you start a sentence with “The king won victories at Battle A, Battle B, and…”, you need to conclude it with “Battle C,” not “promoted his foreign secretary to vizier.” You also need to make sure to avoid stray “this” and “it”s in your questions – if you want to refer back to a previous sentence, use a form of “that” instead to avoid confusing people about the answer.

Do not use any unusual Word templates, and pay attention when converting text from other file formats. If you paste something in, use the “paste as unformatted text” option so it doesn’t bring a minefield of crazy style tags with it. There should not be any point in your document where that little template box in Word says anything besides “Normal.”

Manual line breaks, tabs, and that little thing that looks like a degree sign should not be used ever. There should be nothing in your document besides letters, numbers, standard punctuation, italics, bold, underlining, spaces, and paragraph returns.

Do not use two spaces after a period, or anywhere else.

Remember that using parsimony in non-essential words keeps players from being bored and makes it easier for us to get tossups down to six lines and bonus parts down to two. E.g., “name” instead of “answer questions regarding” in bonus leadins.

Use one inch margins in your packets. This makes it possible for standardized length requirements to be meaningful.

Do not use the subjunctive when the simple past is suitable. Instead of “He would go on to write Bricks Without Straw” , say “He wrote Bricks Without Straw” or “He went on to write Bricks Without Straw.” It just sounds better, places the clue more concretely in time, and usually saves words.

Pronunciation Guides:

Pronunciation guides are usually a waste of time, to be honest. Put them in only under the following conditions:

  • You actually know how to pronounce the word and are not just guessing.
  • The pronunciation guide itself is clear.
  • There is a substantial chance that the word will be mispronounced without the guide, and that the mispronunciation of the word will make it unrecognizable to players or mislead them into thinking it is a different clue. E.g.., don’t put in guides like “Nabokov (nuh-BAHK-off)” – even though that is correct, no player is going to be confused if they hear the incorrect pronunciation “NAH-buh-kov,” so you’re just wasting everyone’s time putting the guide in.
  • Or, if it’s an answer, there’s a substantial chance that a moderator will not recognize the correct pronunciation because it differs substantially from the appearance of the word on the page. Chinese words transliterated with an “x” standing for an “sh” sound or a “zh” standing for a “j” sound are common pitfalls here, and should receive pronunciation guides in answers.

If you choose to put in a pronunciation guide under the above circumstances, put it in parentheses, with phonetic spelling and emphasized syllables in all caps, immediately after the relevant word, like so:

Arthur Rubinstein commissioned a Fantasia by this man, who wrote incidental music to the dramas The Passion and Daybreak. One of his works contains a ritornello in the section “Jota” (HO-tuh). His stage works include the puppet opera The Tale of Master Pedro…
[etc, etc]
ANSWER: Manuel de Falla

Wikipedia reminder:

Wikipedia is not a reliable source for meeting the stringent standards of factual accuracy which quizbowl questions must maintain. We will not accept any questions containing clues whose only source is Wikipedia. If you use Wikipedia in your question writing process, then you should cross-check each and every clue gleaned from any Wikipedia article with an established source. It will probably be more time-efficient for you to avoid using Wikipedia at all. If you are having trouble finding good places to look up information for questions, please contact the editor of the tournament you are writing for.

Packets containing questions which are determined to have come solely from Wikipedia will be returned for rewriting and will not count as submitted for purposes of the fee schedule until such questions have been replaced. You will also be charged $25 on top of your eventual fee for submitting your revised packet.

Plagiarism and recycling:

Plagiarism of any kind in your packet submissions for this tournament is absolutely unacceptable. In general, anything that is considered plagiarism for coursework at your school will be considered plagiarism in your submitted packet. In particular, note that our concept of plagiarism includes but is not limited to lifting wording directly from Wikipedia, Britannica, or any encyclopedia, webpage, book, or other reference source without attribution; and taking questions or parts of questions from previously existing quizbowl packets.

Teams caught plagiarizing will have their packets rejected and will not be given the opportunity to write a replacement. Such teams will be substantially penalized, as per the notice in the penalties section–i.e., you will either be charged hundreds of dollars, or kicked out of the tournament. We promise you that we WILL catch you if you are plagiarizing. Please make sure that every person writing for your packet is fully aware of the consequences of plagiarism.

Also, your packet may not include any questions that were previously submitted to any tournament whatsoever. Even if your previous questions were not used at the other tournament, you do not know for certain who assisted the editors of the prior tournament or otherwise may have seen your questions, and thus you cannot guarantee that the people who saw your questions are not playing in this tournament. While less serious than plagiarism, question recycling is, likewise, totally prohibited and will result in bad things happening to you, so you should take pains to avoid engaging in this practice.

Thank you for your patience is getting through these long guidelines. They are long and detailed because we want to put on the best tournaments possible, with the best packets possible. Please contact the appropriate tournament editor if you have any further questions.