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American FactFinder 2: Step-by-step Tutorial

by Dawn Hegland on February 6th, 2012

The U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder 2 web page allows you to search for a variety of Census information pertaining to a variety of topics related to people, housing and business and industry such as population, number of households, median household income, etc., in specified geographies such as a City or a County in a specified year. To search for information like this, follow the tutorial below for the new American FactFinder 2 website:


Step 1.

Go to the American FactFinder2 website:


Step 2.

Select a Geography from the list on the left side of the web page. This will ensure you are searching for data in your preferred area, say a city or a county.

  • Click on the Geographies bar, on the left side of the web page, under Topics.
  • From here you can use the Geography filter options—this search method is most similar to the previous FactFinder website. However, the easiest option is to manually type in the geography in the search box where it says “Enter a geography name”.
  • Once you’ve typed in your geography (i.e. Appleton, MN) selection choices will automatically appear, choose from that list (i.e. Appleton, city Minnesota).

Note, there may be several options for the geography you want, such as place, incorporated place, economic place, etc. “place” will usually be the best option, but you can click on the information logo under the about column for more detailed descriptions of the Geography Type.

  • Click the check box and then Add, or double click the geography in blue text to add it to Your Selections. The Your Selections box located above Topics and Geographies in the upper left, allows you to keep track of each of your search categories. You can add and delete search categories from Your Selections at any time.


Step 3.

Now you know where you are searching for information, but you still need to determine what you will be searching. Close the geographies pop up box to move on to the next search criteria, Topics.


  • Click the Topics bar on the left side of the page, above Geographies. There you will be able to choose from People, Housing, Business and Industry, Year, Product Type, Program or Dataset.
  • Within these topics are additional categories such as, Basic Count/Estimate, Age & Sex, Age Group and so on for the People heading. Within those categories, there are further subcategories, drill down in the topics until you reach the most detailed level, from there select the detailed topic for which you wish to search.
  • Eventually all of the searchable options will appear in a larger box to the right. Click the check box of the topic you want to search—making sure to note the information in the dataset column. The dataset column will indicate whether the data is 100% data from the 2010 Census, estimate data from the American Community Survey and so on.


Step 4.

Reviewing the data: Once your topic is selected, you can View, Download or Compare the data. Viewing the data first is helpful so you know if it’s the data you want. Sometimes the Census categories are confusing, or not what they seem from the description. Viewing the data allows you to quickly see what is in that dataset.

  • From the View option, you can then download the data. The data can be downloaded in several formats such as a PDF or excel file, which is great for further analysis. Note that you can only search one Topic at a time. If more than one Topic is selected, it will only show the first item when you View the data.


If you are searching for multiple datasets in the same Geography, no need to reselect the Geography. Simply clear the topics and search for the next dataset. If you want the same Topic for different Geographies, simply clear the previous Geography and select the new Geography, leaving the Topic as is in Your Selections box.


For help or more information on working with American FactFinder 2, you can contact Lindsey Knutson at the UMVRDC. Phone her at 320-289-1981 ext. 7 or email

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