About the Census

Information about how to research and cite Census data.

How to Cite!

Basic Format (APA 7th Edition):

Group Name (year data was published). Name of data or report. Website Name (if applicable). [URL].


U.S. Census Bureau (2018). Selected housing characteristics, 2018 American Community Survey 5-year estimates data profiles. The Census Bureau. https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=selected%20housing%20&hidePreview=false&tid= ACSDP5Y2018.DP04&t=Housing&vintage=2018

Need more citation help? You can see how to cite government documents and many other types of resources at Purdue OWL!

Census Language and Terms

See how definitions of race have changed over time here.

Current categories of race and ethnicity from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB):

White – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

Black or African American – A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.

American Indian or Alaska Native – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.

Asian – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

In addition to the five race categories, there are two for ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino.  

When starting to work with the Census, it is important to understand how small-area geography is described. This can be difficult, as geographic terms can often be confusing for many people due to the specialized terminology that is utilized. The links below lead to the Census Bureau website where specific definitions will be given, while the following image illustrates how the described terms fit together.

  1. Block
  2. Place
  3. Census Tract
  4. Minor Civil Division (MCD)
  5. Census County Division (CCD)
  6. Group Quarters (GQ)
  7. Metropolitan Statistical Area

Original image retrieved from UC Berkley.

Understanding Data