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Using American FactFinder (AFF): Step 3: View/map/save data

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

Table modification options

table tools

Viewing/downloading/printing data

graphAfter you've selected topics and geographies, you're ready to see the data tables that fit your selection criteria.

  1. Click on tab #5 Search Results.
  2. The top 10 most relevant tables that fit your criteria are listed.
  3. If you want to see more tables, click on the Advanced Search link below the initial listing. It will tell you how many tables are available in all. NOTE: In Guided Search you can only select one table, but Advanced Search allows you to select as many as you want. They will display separately.
  4. Click on the table title that you wish to see.
  5. You'll be moved automatically to tab #6 Table Viewer and can see your data.

Modify your table

You might not need every bit of data that's displayed in the table. Or, you might find it more convenient to display the data in a different way. AFF offers many options for modifying your table. Click on the Modify Table link to enable these options. When a table has been modified a note appears to remind you of this, and you can Reset Table to go back to the original view at any time. The graphic in the box above shows the modification buttons.

  • Rows or columns can be hidden by un-checking the boxes associated with them. Click on the Show Hidden Rows/Columns to display them again. See the red boxes above.
  • Some data categories can be collapsed, and then re-expanded. Click on the minus sign to collapse and the plus sign to expand a category. See the turquoise boxes above.
  • Rows and columns can be rearranged by clicking on the small left/right or up/down arrows. See the pink boxes above.
  • Tables can be sorted if the data allows by clicking on the larger up/down arrows. See the green box above; note that the data in this table is not sortable.
  • Rows and columns can be filtered to eliminate some categories of data by clicking on the filter icon. See the blue boxes above.
  • Rows and columns can be transposed by clicking on the Transpose Rows and Columns link; clicking on it again will put them back the way they were. See the black box above.

checkNote that the tables retrieved under Search Results will be the most relevant tables that meet your topic criteria, and that are available for the geographic area(s) you selected. If you can't tell from a table's title what it will contain, just click on it and examine the data. You can always go back to Search Results and pick another table.

Saving/Printing/Downloading a table

PDFAFF offers several options for saving your table. See the teal box in the graphic above.

  • Bookmark. The Bookmark option also provides a URL for sharing. NOTE: you can only bookmark an unmodified table.
  • Save. This option saves your query and you can save a modified table. The query is saved to your computer with a .aff file extension. You can retrieve saved queries from the main American FactFinder page, through a link on the right, towards the bottom of the page. Note that the full data is not saved, just the result with your modifications. And remeber, it's saved on your computer, not in the cloud!
  • Print. This option allows printing of the table in a PDF format. Page orientation and size can be chosen.
  • Download. Various download options are available:
    • CSV comma-delimited, with various options for metadata. Click on the help icon (?) for more information.
    • Presentation formats include PDF (similar to Print option), Excel (.xls), and Rich Text (.rtf)

Mapping data

After you've got your data table, you can make a map of your data if you chose more than one Census Tract.

The Create a Map option will be live at the top of your table when the Table Tools are Hidden.

Map creation

  1. Click on Create a Map. A popup opens instructing you to click on a data element.
  2. Choose the element of data in your table that you want to map, and click on any of the values in that row.
  3. The map is automatically generated. Depending on how many Tracts you selected, the map generation process may take a few minutes.
  4. NOTE that only the specific data element that you clicked on will be displayed, so be careful which number you click. For most tables, to map all the data you'll need to create several different maps.

Notice that you can toggle between Map and Table Views by clicking on the appropriate tabs.

AFF offers customization options for modifying maps. See the red box in the graphic below. 

  • Colors. You can change the colors and transparency options for different data classes.
  • Boundaries and Features. You can add some features, including labels, by checking them on a dropdown menu.
  • Find a location. A specific place can be found on the map.
  • Map Markers. Various markers, with text, can be added; different color options are available.

Sample Census Tract map

Census Tract map

Saving/Printing/Downloading a map

The options for saving, printing, and downloading maps are similar to those for tables. See the teal box in the sample map graphic above

  • Bookmark. Also provides a URL for sharing the map.
  • Save. The data for the currently viewed result is saved to your computer, with an .aff file extension.
  • Print. Creates a PDF of the map, with the option to give it a title. Page orientation and size options are available.
  • Download. Options for downloading the data are given in the box on the left. Map downloads add the option to download a  zipped shapefile (in CSV format) that can recreate the map.