American FactFinder (AFF) is the U.S. Bureau of Census' interface for distributing the 1990 and 2000 Census of Population & Housing {"Decennial Census"}, the 1997 and 2002 Economic Census, the American Community Survey, annual economic surveys, and other upcoming major related statistical files. This site is the primary source for the 2000 Census and the current economic census reports. The site is updated regularly with new data as it becomes available to the public. FactFinder has many features that allow for viewing, printing, and downloading various population statistics. Factfinder also allows for the creation of reference and thematic maps, and user-selected tables of data that can be downloaded in ASCII (text) or CSV (comma separated value) formats. This guide focuses on using FactFinder for data from the Decennial Census.

Population FinderWhat's the current population?
Fact SheetGeneral information tables from various census reports.
PeoplePopular tables on a variety of topics (age, education, income, race and more) related to people.
HousingPopular tables on home values, ownership, housing characteristics and mortgage, etc.
Business and GovernmentCovers basic data on housing starts, government finances, foreign trade, etc.
About the DataBrief information about the various statistical surveys which are part of the American FactFinder: censuses and surveys, tables and maps, and geography.
Data SetsUse this section to access all data sets, tables, and maps available in AFF.
Download CenterAccess to LARGE statistical files used by more comprehensive researchers.
MapsAccess the Reference and Thematic Maps in AFF. with tips on creating, using, downloading and printing maps. Reference maps show users selected geographic areas and identify selected features of the area; Thematic maps are used to reveal the geographic patterns in statistical data.
Tools and ReferencesLinks to data manipulation tools and user guides.

From the section "Getting detailed data," select the file of interest, click on GET DATA. From the resources made available, look for data of interest. The user may also select special categories, such as ranking tables, subject tables, geographic comparison tables, detailed tables, quick tables, etc. Categories are specific to each statistical report.

Some of the specialized tables are:

Geographic Comparison Tables: Comparison data for different geographic regions (i.e., age and sex for all counties in Wisconsin).
Detailed Tables: Access to all tables and maps for each summary file.
Quick Tables: Predefined tables with frequently requested information for a single geographic area, including numerical data and derived measures (e.g., percent distributions). Users may choose more than one geographic area and more than one table to display and print.


  1. Keyword Search:
    1. Search all data files (i.e., Decennial, Economic, American Community Survey, etc.) or select a specific file.
    2. Click on the SEARCH button at the top of the page; select "keyword."
    3. Enter the desired search terms and click Search.
    4. Combine terms using "and" or put phrases in quotes. Use an asterisk to truncate terms (e.g., plumb*).
    5. Example: Enter "plumbing" to find all data files and thematic maps containing statistics on the topic of plumbing.

  2. Geography Search:
    1. Identifies brief statistical tables, Thematic maps, and Reference maps for a specific geography.
    2. Search all data files (i.e., Decennial, Economic, American Community Survey, etc.) or select a specific file.
    3. Click on the SEARCH button at the top of the page; select "geography."
    4. Enter a place name and click Search.
    5. Further refine the search by following the link Show more selection methods and more geographic types.
    6. Different statistical data will appear based on the specified file selected.
    7. Example: Enter a term such as "Milwaukee" to see a list of all data sets and maps associated with Milwaukee in general, or "Milwaukee city" for the City of Milwaukee, specifically.

  3. Street Address Search:
    1. General Information
      1. Street addresses for 2000 Census maps and data can be searched to identify a specific geography. Some data from the American Community Survey may also be search by street address.
      2. The ability to search and the results depend on the quality of data input by local communities. There can be a lot of variation from one address to another. Detailed information for one specific address is not available.
      3. Hyphenated addresses may not be searchable, while others may have misassigned tract codes.
      4. Some known addresses do not appear, and some non-addresses are assigned codes.
    2. Instructions
      1. Click on the "Enter a street address" link on the left hand side of the FactFinder homepage.
      2. Type in the complete address and click Go.
      3. A list of possible geographies is shown; highlight one of the options, and click Go.
      4. Example: Enter an address such as 3919 N. Morris Blvd. Shorewood, WI 53211 to view a list of geographies associated with that address.


  1. Data Sets
    1. General Information
      1. "Data Sets" is the most comprehensive access point for the Population and Housing (Decennial) Census, the Economic Census, the American Community Survey, and the annual economic surveys and population estimates.
      2. "Data Sets" may provide more information than other searches.
    2. Geographies Covered
      1. Geography ranges from Nation down to Block group level.
      2. Geography can be chosen through a Geography search or a map.
      3. For 2000 data, the Address Search option is available.
      4. Data may be available for geographic areas without place names (e.g., Census tracts).
    3. Instructions
      1. Select the desired data set by clicking on the appropriate link from the menu.
      2. Choose a single data set and pick from the options given (options may vary): Detailed Tables; Geographic Comparison Table; Quick Tables; Reference Maps; Enter a Table Number; List All Tables; About This Data Set,etc. ("List All Tables" is recommended unless a Thematic Map is needed.)
      3. Highlight any table from the "List all Tables" link and choose What's this? to help determine the relevancy of data.
      4. Select a geographic type from the link given.
      5. Highlight a table and click on Next, make an additional table selection and click on Show Result.
      6. Choose a geography through list, name search, address search, map, or geo within geo.
      7. "List" allows a choice of geographies with no place name (e.g., Block groups).
      8. The results show geographic information in columns.
      9. Tables can be re-oriented in Excel to fit a printable page.

  2. Locating Census Areas
    1. Instructions (by Address)
      1. Use the "Street Address" search option for 2000 data when the street address is known.
      2. This will display pre-made tables of statistics for various census geographies in which the address is located.
      3. Click on the "Enter a street address" link on the FactFinder homepage.
      4. Enter an address and choose to view data from the given geographies.
    2. Instructions (using Reference Maps)
      1. Click on "Maps: Reference Maps" from the FactFinder homepage.
      2. Select the option to locate 1990 and 2000 maps, census tracts, block numbers, etc.
      3. Enter the state name or zip code in the spaces provided.
      4. Wait for the screen to reload. The map must reload after every selection or the selection will not be registered.
      5. Click on an area to enlarge. It may be necessary to zoom/click several times until the Census tract or block numbers become visible.
      6. Use the arrows around the map to re-center. Use the zoom buttons on the right to zoom in/out.
      7. Use Options to add or remove features (e.g., highways, golf courses).


    1. Thematic Mapping
      1. General Information
        1. Thematic maps present demographic trends using colors or patterns to shade areas of the map.
        2. Variables such as income, population, and age can be illustrated with Thematic maps.
      2. Geographies Covered
        1. State, County, Metropolitan areas, Congressional districts, 3-digit Zip code tabulation areas
      3. Instructions
        1. Click on the "Maps: Thematic Maps" link on the FactFinder homepage.
        2. Select a geographic option from the dropdown menu list, and wait for the map to load.
        3. The default theme is population per square mile, and the data set is the 2000 Census Summary Tape File 1 (100% data).
        4. Select a desired data set, geography, or theme.
        5. Each map utilizes the zoom in and out features.
        6. Use the "Change/Reposition/View" menu to change data classes, to add/remove boundaries, and other features, or to change the title of the map. (Note: Some boundaries and features will not be visible at certain zoom levels.)

    2. Reference Mapping
      1. General Information
        1. Reference maps are useful for distinguishing borders between the various geographic levels, finding levels within levels, or for finding the name/number of a specific geographic division.
        2. Point and click anywhere on the map to zoom in on the desired geography, or use the "Change/Reposition" menu and select a different geography.
        3. Once the map is obtained, it is possible to zoom, pan, change geographies, change data sets, and add or subtract physical features (such as schools).
      2. Geography: All geographies are available as Reference Maps.
      3. Instructions
        1. Select the "Maps: Reference Maps" link from the FactFinder homepage.
        2. Enter the state or zip code in the boxes provided.
        3. Click on a map to zoom in for more detail.
        4. Map features may be added or removed.
        5. For additional information, see the "Quick Tips" link from the homepage. The Tutorial "Creating and Using Maps" will also be useful.


    1. General Information
      1. In general, only what is seen on the screen is printed.
      2. "Quick Tables", where available, are in print-ready format and will print on one page. Other tables may require the landscape style and print on multiple pages.
      3. Pop-up tables or maps may require downloading to a disk and printing in a new browser window.
      4. Up to 500 geographic selections and 50 tables of Decennial or American Community Survey data can be viewed or downloaded.
      5. Up to 10,000 lines of Economic Census data (about 5MB) of data can be downloaded at a time.
      6. For large amounts of data, FactFinder includes a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) option (link under 'Other Resources' on the "Data Sets" page.
      7. Tables can be saved as Comma delimited - spreadsheet format (.csv file) or Tab delimited (.lst file). Note: Tab Delimited = numbers in columns separated by a Tab; Comma Delimited = numbers separated by a Comma.
      8. Tables can be opened in Microsoft Access, Excel, or Word.
    2. Printing Instructions
      1. Use the browser's File > Print Preview option to check that the entire table fits onto one or more pages.
      2. If it does not, use the web browser's Page Setup and change the orientation to landscape. (Note: Landscape orientation will generally ensure that the tables fit on a page.)
      3. Thematic and Reference Maps
        1. To print a map use the 'Print/Download' menu.
        2. A Print dialog box displays to confirm printer and print settings.
        3. Click OK to send the map to the printer.
        4. For information about using and printing from the PDF map files:

    3. Downloading Instructions
      1. For tables use the 'Print/download' menu at the top of the page.
      2. For maps, right-click on the map from the web browser, and choose "Save image as" or "Save picture as." Images save as .GIF or .BMP (bitmap) formats.

    TO EXIT:
    Exit FactFinder by closing the browser.

    Use the HELP link in the upper right corner of the FactFinder home page. This will display information about the current topic and give links to online tutorials for using maps, understanding the various sections, choosing a data set, a guide to the "Tools and Reference," etc.


    Demographic Profile: A profile includes tables that provide various demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics for the U.S., regions, divisions, states, counties, minor civil divisions in selected states, places, metropolitan areas, American Indian and Alaska Native areas, Hawaiian home lands, and congressional districts. It includes 100-percent and sample data from the decennial censuses.
    100% Data: Information based on a limited number of basic population and housing questions collected from both the short form and the long form for every inhabitant and housing unit in the United States.
    Sample Data: Population and housing information collected from the census long form for a one in six sample of households in the United States and Puerto Rico, and on a continuous basis for selected areas in the American Community Survey.

    Geographic areas on the chart are arranged from largest (top) to smallest (bottom). Lines indicate relationships between geographic types (e.g., congressional districts are sub-divisions of States, and are divisible further into blocks).


          04/01/03; slight mod 1/28/2005; 09/18/07; clean 3/10/11
    UWM Libraries Home * PantherCat

    UWM Libraries Staff
    page contact: Linda Brothen