Using American FactFinder: Using Guided Search

This guide provides information on using American FactFinder to find, retrieve and map Census data. It includes information on the various types of data available through American FactFinder based on surveys done by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Accessing Data using Guided Search

The American Factfinder website contains a Guided Search system that leads users through some of the steps involved in identifying possible data tables. To use Guided Search:

1. Link to American Factfinder.

2. Click on Guided Search and then the Get Me Started button.

3. The system prompts users to identify their general data needs (people [population], housing, business & industry, a specific dataset or table number or title). Click the appropriate radio button to identify the type of data needed and click the Next button.

4. The next page allows users to further narrow their search topic. An alphabetical list of topics is offered for each data type. Each topic can be expanded by clicking on the + (plus) sign next to it, revealing an alphabetical list of sub-topics for each major topic. Clicking on a sub-topic that deals with the subject of interest will reduce the number of results. When a sub-topic has been selected, the Your Selections box will display the selected topics and the number of tables matching that selection. Then click on the Next button underneath the Your Selections box.

5. The next step asks users to identify information about the location for which data is needed (a place name or zip code) or type of geographic area of interest (county, county subdivision [township], census tract, etc.). This can be done by entering a place name into a search box or choosing the type of geographic area(s) of interest with a series of pull-down menus. Choose the appropriate area(s) of interest based on the following instructions:

a) Quickly reduce the number of tables in the results by entering the name of a specific state, county, city, town or zip code in the search box at the top of the page.


a) Specify the type of geographic area of interest using a pull-down menu. The geographic area types offered are: United States, states, counties, places, county subdivisions (townships), Census tracts, Congressional Districts, Zip Code Tabulation Areas, American Indian/Alaska Native Areas & Hawaiian Home Lands and Metropolitan or Combined Statistical Areas. If another geographic area type is needed, users can link to Advanced Search. (Use the Name tab on Advanced Search.)

b) Narrow the search to a single state, county or other area or retrieve data for the entire United States, all counties in a state or another area or group of areas by using additional pull-down menus.

c) When a geographic area selection has been made, click Add to Your Selections. The number of tables in the results will decrease.

d) When a selection has been made, click Next to move on.

6. The next step in Guided Search asks users to identify the racial, ancestry or ethnic group of interest, if any. If racial, ancestry or ethnic group data is not needed, this step can be bypassed by clicking on the Skip This Step button.

a) If seeking data for basic racial, ethnic, ancestry or tribal groups, click on Select From Basic Groups. This option allows users to retrieve data on basic racial and ethnic groups and tribes.

b) If seeking detailed data on specific tribes, ancestries, countries of birth, click on Select From Detailed Groups.

7. If Racial, Ethnic or Ancestry data was not selected, the next (Search Results) page offers users a list of tables that meet their criteria. The 10 most commonly retrieved will be listed in a results box. If these tables do not provide the information needed, it is possible to view all of the remaining tables by clicking on the Advanced Search link below the results list.

If the Select From Basic Groups or Select From Detailed Groups options were chosen, identify the racial, ethnic or ancestry group of interest and click Add to Your Selections. Once all of the racial, ethnic or ancestry groups of interest have been identified click Next.

While the Guided Search system can be used to narrow searches for data, the initial results given may not match expectations or needs. If it does not find the needed results, use Advanced Search.