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User Guide


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Getting Started

Set Up Your Computer

Many browsers block pop-ups by default. While using DataFerrett you must allow them so the application can run.

In Mozilla Firefox go to Tools->Options, select Content, uncheck "Block pop-up windows."

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In Internet Explorer go to Tools->Internet Options, select Privacy, uncheck "Turn on Pop-up Blocker."

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You will need to have Java installed on your computer and the plug-in working in your browser.

In Mozilla Firefox go to Tools->Add-ons, select Plugins, make sure Java is not Disabled.

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In Internet Explorer go to Tools->Manage add-ons, select Toolbars and Extensions, make sure Java is not Disabled.

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If you do not see Java in your list of add-ons, go to java.com/en/ for the free download. You will need administrator rights to install it on your computer. You will need to restart your browser and return to this page.


  1. When you launch DataFerrett a couple of things will happen. First, a page will open with a warning that you should not close this window. As long as you want to use DataFerrett, you must leave this window open in your browser. Open a new window or tab if you need to browse the internet while using DataFerrett.

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  2. A couple of alerts may pop up asking you to click Run, and asking ask if you want to block content. This is a security certificate assuring that the DataFerrett site is an official Census Bureau supported site. Click "Run" to accept the security certificate.
  3. After a few moments (up to a minute depending on your browser), DatafFerrett will open and you will be prompted to enter your email address. If you choose to extract a dataset later, you will receive an alert at this address to let you know your download is ready. Type your email address in the box and leave "public use data only" checked, then click OK.

Adding Data

There are three sections of the DataFerrett page you can navigate between. You begin on the Introduction page. This page has links to tutorials and pre-made tables that you can use. There are two tabs at the top of the page that let you navigate between Step1 and Step2.


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This tab is where you select a dataset, and the variables within that dataset you wish to work with. Datasets are sorted into folders on the left side of the window. You eExplore the folders using the + signs next to the folders or you can use the search function to find a word or phrase within the folders you have highlighted. Use the blue button that says Browse/Select Highlighted Variables to look at the values associated with a given variable.

A pop-up window will appear asking you to select the variable(s) to be included in your data basket. Uncheck any values that you want to drop from the dataset and click okay when you are happy satisfied with your selection. An alert will pop up to let you know it the variable was successfully added to your databasket. When you have added all of the variables you would like to work with, click the tab at the top for step 2.

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This tab is where you review and recode variables you have selected and decide whether you wish to download the data to use in other software, or make a table using DataFerrett's built in spreadsheet tool. If you decide to download the dataset, you should also save the CodeBook from this page.

Additional References

  • User Guide Chapter 1: Selecting Variables & Adding Them to the DataBasket
  • User Guide Chapter 2: Browse/Select Geography Variables
  • User Guide Chapter 3: Recodes & Other Options

Make a Table

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When making a table, simply drag and drop variables into the top row or the left column of the table (leave R1C1 empty). For categorical variables, it will expand to show all the categories of the variable. For continuous variables, you will see averages instead.

please note NOTE: You can drop variables on top of other variables to create a nested table. Experiment with the order and location you drop variables to create a table that works best for you.

While you are laying out the table structure, the cells of the table will have "?" marks. You must press click the green GO Get Data button at the top of the spreadsheet to populate the table with numbers values (?).

Additional References