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Using American FactFinder (AFF): Step 2: Choose Tracts

instructions and tips on using AFF to find and map Census Tract data

Finding Tract numbers

USACensus Tracts are the smallest geographical unit for which detailed Census data (income, education, poverty status, etc.) is provided.

Before you can find data at the Tract level, you must know the Tract numbers which encompass the area you are interested in. Here are two ways to find these numbers:

  • Use the Address Search box on the American FactFinder main page. Make a note of the Tract number, or select it, which will automatically enter it into your Search selections. You can look up multiple addresses from this screen. See step-by-step directions for using this feature in the box below.
    • Note that by clicking on a Tract number from Address Search you'll be put into Advanced Search, and will be shown all the tables for the Tract you select. If you want to do your work in Guided Search, just make a note of the Tract number and select it under the Geographies #3 tab.
  • Use the 2010 Census Tract reference map. This database provides PDFs of Tracts for each county in the country. If you select Texas and Bexar County, the majority of the county area will be found in the map designated C48029_002. Once you've found Tract numbers in this way, use the steps in the second box below to get your data.

Choosing Tracts: when you don't know your Tract numbers

If you don't know the Tract numbers for which you want data, you can use AFF's Address Search feature, and the Tract will be automatically added to Your Selections box. 

AFF Tract selections

  1. Choose your Topics as outlined in Step 1.
  2. Return to the main AFF page. Your topic selections will be retained.
  3. Click on Street Address under Address Search.
  4. Enter address information. Note that zip code is not necessary if you enter city and state.
  5. Click on Census Tract from the list of geographies that appear (probably the 5th option). This will add the Tract to Your Selections box. You may enter more than one address. NOTE that you need to select at least two Tracts in order to make a map.
  6. Close the address box to see your tables.

Note that choosing a Tract through Address Search puts you into Advanced Search, and you'll be shown all available tables for your Tract. If you have previously chosen a Topic, it will be a filtered list of tables. But if you choose the address first, you'll see all the tables for which Tract data is available (thousands!). It's easier to choose your Topic before going to Address Search for your Tract, but if you don't, you can filter by Topic using the navigation tabs on the left.

Choosing Tracts: when you know your Tract numbers

If you already know the Tract numbers you want to study, use these steps:

  1. Click on the Geographies tab (#3) in the Guided Search.
  2. In the Select Geographic Type dropdown menu, choose Census Tract.
  3. Select the State.
  4. Select the County. Census Tract boundaries do not cross over county boundaries.
  5. Then select the Tract(s) for which you want data. NOTE: in order to make a map, you will have to choose at least two Tracts.
  6. Be sure to click on Add to Your Selections at the bottom of the list. The Tracts you select will be added to the Your Selections box, and the number of tables available will be updated.

AFF Tract selections