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DataFerrett Self Tutorial

Census Bureau DataFerrett web site:
The Census Bureau DataFerrett Hotline: 1-866-437-0171 E-mail:

This document was prepared by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) (October 6, 2011) based on DataFerrett training materials developed by the U.S. Census Bureau. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Liang Long by e-mail at This self tutorial gives step-by-step instructions on how to access American Community Survey Five-Year Block Group Level Data.

Example: I want to get Means of Transportation data Table B08301 for all the Block Groups in Montgomery County, Maryland

The DataFerrett run Page. The URL for this page is When you launch either version of DataFerrett, you will be asked to have pop-up windows enabled in your browser. If you have turned off the pop-up blocker and the DataFerrett is still not running, try HOLD the "Ctrl" key while launching the software.

Screen shot of initial DataFerrett page. A unique data analysis and extraction tool.

Login screen. You log into DataFerrett by entering your e-mail adress. This e-mail address will be used to notify you when an extract from the ACS data is ready to download.

DataFerret screen shot asking for email addredss used to send large extracts via amail and database updates. Data is not shared.

Initial screen after login. This "introduction" page contains a great deal of documentation, examples, and tutorials that you may find useful. To start, click on "Get Data Now" icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

DataFerrett screen shot showing Get Data Now button.

Initial Step 1 screen. Here is the screen before selecting ACS summary file for 2005-2009 as the dataset.

Data Ferrett screen shot example.

Close up of the Search All Datasets option box.

Click on the "+" sign to the left of the folder labeled "American Community Survey."

Screen shot of Search all Datasets, American Community Survey, Summarized Data.

You will have to open a few subfolders to get all the detailed tables in the ACS 2005-2009 to appear as shown in this screenshot. Click on the "+" button next to the subfolder of "Summarized Data" to access ACS aggregate data.

After selecting table B08301, "Means of Transportation to Work," a window showing "Description and View Variables" will open as shown in this screenshot. Select "View Variables" by clicking on it.

Close up screen sh ot for View Variables.

Variable descriptions will be shown in the right-hand side.

Screen shot showing variable descriptions.

In our example, we want all Means of Transportation and MOEs, so we need to select all variables. Using the SHIFT key, highlight all variables. If you only want the driving alone data, you can select driving alone variables only.

Screen shot showing variable descriptions.

Next, click on the "Browse/Select Highlighted Variables" button located above the variable list.

Browse/Select Highlighted Variables button.

After clicking on "Browse/Select highlighted variables" button, the "Browse/select variables" pane will open. Next, check the "Select All Variables" box and then click "OK."

Browse/Select Variables & Values dialogue box.

Example of the Confirmation button. You have added 42 variables for your DataBasket. OK. Cancel.

After selecting all the variables (i.e., all cells in the table, including the margin of error cells), the following window will open. Click on OK.

Ferrett Warning - GridGroup 1. You must select required variables for this dataset. OK button.

After clicking OK, this window will open. Click on OK again.

You will be in the screen for selecting required geography variables. Double-click on "Needs to be selected" to go to next screen.

DataFerrett screen shot example.

After double-clicking on the "Needs to be selected," the Geography selection pane will open on the top left of your screen.

Ferrett Geography Codebook. Browse/Select Geographies example.

Scroll down and select the Block Group level, click the "Next" button.

Ferrett Geography Codebook. Browse/Select Geographies example with selection.

Select the "FIPS County Code" and hit "Next." CAUTION! DO NOT SELECT "FIPS STATE CODE" AS THEY WILL NOT GIVE YOU THE OPTION OF SELECTING A SPECIFIC COUNTY. If you want Block Groups for a whole state, select the "FIPS State Code" instead.

Ferrett Geography Codebook. Browse/Select Geographies example with more detail.

Select "FIPS State Code" and hit "Next."

Ferrett Geography Codebook. Browse/Select Geographies example. Next window.

Continue selecting State of Maryland and click the "Next" button.

Select State from list example.

Continue selecting Montgomery County (and clicking the "Next" button) until the "Finish" button is highlighted.

Select County example.

Browse/Select BLKGRP.

Now we have already selected tables and geographies. Select the tab labeled "Step 2: Databasket/download/make a table."

Step 2: Databasket/Download/Make a Table.

Select the variables in your data basket and the buttons on the right will become active. Select the buttons that says "Save Selected Variable(s) CodeBook" and save the code book in your local directory. You will need the variables codebook to understand the dataset that you will download in the next step.

Screenshot example Save Selected Variable(s )CodeBook.

There are two choices at the top of screen: Download or Make a Table. Click on the "Download" icon.

Two buttons: Download or Make a Table.

After clicking the "Download" box and clicking on the "comma delimited" radio button, notice that the "Yes" option to the "Run your request in batch mode?" question has been chosen for you (and cannot be changed to "No").

Download Data example.

After clicking on "Get Extract," the message "Please Wait... Processing your Request" will appear for a few seconds followed by this pop-up. DataFerrett sends an e-mail message to the e-mail address you gave when you logged in notifying you when the extracted data is ready to be downloaded to your computer.

Ferrett GetData Batch Run example with OK button.

The Final Results.

Screen shot example of the results.

Updated: 1/5/2012
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