American Community Survey Data Users Group
ACS Data Products & Resources
ACS Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS)
ACS Summary Files
Application Programming Interface (API)
ACS Data Issues
ACS Data for Small Geographic Areas & Population Subgroups
Mapping ACS Data/GIS Applications
Measuring Trends Over Time with ACS Data
American FactFinder - Dis…
Sorting or searching by U…
This group requires membership for participation - click to join
Jun 4, 2015 5:29 PM
Sorting or searching by Universe
Hi everyone, I'm working with ACS 2013 5-year estimates at the census tract level. I am wondering if there is a way to search the FactFinder by Universe and, if so, how that can be done? I would like to create ratios using raw numbers that I'm finding in FactFinder tables, however, these come from different Universes (ie, the numerator I want to use is drawn from the "Civilian noninstitutionalized population" Universe, and the denominator I want to use is drawn from "Families"). Any thoughts, comments, or suggestions are appreciated! Thank you.
Jun 5, 2015 7:25 AM
One way you could search for different universes is to download the table shells for the 5-year estimates and then conduct a search in the Excel file, or simply scan the tables for the universes that you need. You can access the table shells through the Census Bureau's FTP site:
The table shell for the 2013 5-year file is called ACS2013_TableShells.xls
Jun 8, 2015 2:59 PM
Thanks so much, Mark. This is exactly the type of information I needed. I appreciate you pointing me in the direction of the Table Shells.
Jun 8, 2015 3:42 PM
Also, generally the universe for any given table is in the table itself - e.g. the "total" line at the top of the table.
I am curious as to why you want to use a numerator which is a part of the total civilian population and a denominator of families.
Jun 18, 2015 11:43 AM
My original post may have been a bit unclear. I want to create a ratio where the numerator and denominator both come from the same universe. However, the two variables I had wanted to use were drawn from different universes, so I need a way to look for variables that come from the same universe (ie, both variables from the universe of families, or both from total civilian pop).
Jun 19, 2015 10:44 AM
Alicia, I have attached a file that should help with your search. I modified the table sequence file so that each Table Title and the associated Universe comprise one record. I then sorted by Universe and Subject Area so you can identify variables that reside within your chosen Universe and use the Table ID to find the table.
[Updated on 6/19/2015 11:20 AM]
Just noticed that I did not trim all of the leading spaces from the Universe field so that the sorting went haywire. This has been corrected in the attached file.
Jun 19, 2015 3:41 PM
Jeffrey, Thank you so much. This is incredibly helpful!
Jun 22, 2015 7:44 AM
I just took a look at the file and think this could be really handy at some point. Thanks to Jeffrey for making this available to all!
Jun 23, 2015 9:29 AM
I'm still hoping that we can articulate needs and best practices for the Census Bureau publishing more and better metadata than an Excel spreadsheet.
I started a Google Group for interested parties. We don't know what to do about it yet but if you want to discuss or just eavesdrop, sign up at