Skip to Main Content

Decennial Censuses of the United States: Searching

Basic Searching

If you are not exactly sure what you are looking for, the website offers a user friendly way to browse for data, reports, and surveys through the "Browse by Topic" tab, as seen below. 


When clicking on the "Education" option one can see the website offers different types of information about the topic, such as data, visualizations, surveys, and publications.  


You can also use the single search bar on the website to conduct a basic search. To start your search you will want to type in a few keywords related to your topic, as well as the geographic location of your study. In the example below the initial search is "education in Chicago." However, while you start typing your search the interface will offer suggestions that align with the language used from the Census Bureau. For example you will then want to select "education in Chicago city, Illinois."



The results will display tables, maps, and web pages from the American Community Survey (ACS). To learn more about how to navigate the tables and maps please view the "Tables & Maps" tab on this research guide. 



After conducting a basic or advanced search the results often lead you to a page where you can select different formats to view the data including tables, maps, or web pages. The pages typically contain information such as quick facts or news articles about a certain place or topic. 

To continue with the "education in Chicago city, Illinois" search, the first format to view the data can be done using tables. Simply click on the "View All Tables" button and an expansive data table will open in a new window. There is a bar on the left side of the table that displays different survey topics related to the "educational attainment in Chicago city, Illinois" search. For example, the current data table in the example below shows data related to "educational attainment," but if I were to click on the "school enrollment" topic a completely new table would load to show data related to school enrollment. 


You will also be able to choose specific survey years from the dropdown menu at the top of the screen, as well as customize and download the table. The customization tool is quite complex to use and it works better if you know what filters you want to apply to your data table. You can always schedule a consultation with a librarian at the DU Research Center to learn how to use the customization tool in more detail. 


Instead of choosing the table option we can also view the data sample "education in Chicago city, Illinois" using an interactive map. After selecting the "View All Maps" button from the search results the map will automatically load to display the general area of your search, in this case Chicago, Illinois. 

Like the tables, the user can choose different survey topics in a menu on the left side of the screen, as well as click the drop-down menu on the top of the map to choose a different survey year or geography. 


In the example below, the "Zip Code Tabulation Area" was chosen from the "Geographies" drop-down menu to explore another way the data can viewed geographically on the map interface. 

Also, the user is able to click on specific areas of the map. Counties, zip codes, or regional divisions are just a few options to choose from. Once a specific area of the map is selected the user can load a profile to view detailed data about the specific area that was chosen. To learn more about how the Census Bureau considers geography when collecting data view the "Census Geographies" section under the "" tab on the Decennial Censuses of the United States: research guide. 

Once the profile button on the map is clicked on the map will load a new webpage that displays the profile for the particular area selected on the map. Profile information can then be viewed by subject. The subjects include: people and population, race and ethnicity, health, education, business and economy, employment, and income and poverty. 

Advanced Searching

If searching for specific data, users will want to use the advanced search function. To access the advanced search screen click on the "Advanced Search" link located underneath the single search bar on the website.


Once in the advanced search screen users can type in a table ID number or use the "Browse Filters" option to filter by topic, geography, years, surveys, and codes. Please be aware that if you type in keywords in the search bars, for example "education in Chicago" the advanced search screen will give you a warning to select filters to narrow your search.

To continue with the "education in Chicago search" the selected filters needed to refine the search include topic, geography, and years. While choosing filters your selections will appear at the bottom of the advanced search web page. 



The results will display tables, maps, and web pages from the American Community Survey (ACS). The interface will look very similar to the results that appear when doing a basic search using keywords in the single search bar. To learn more about how to navigate the tables and maps please view the "Tables & Maps" tab on this research guide.