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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Geography 104

Assistance for GEOG 104 mapping assignment, Fall 2019

Citing Social Explorer


Data creator. (Year). Table. In Social Explorer. 

U.S. Census Bureau. (2017). A00002 Population Density (Per Sq. Mile). In Social Explorer

In text: (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017). 


Data Creator. "Table, date." Social Explorer. Web. Date retrieved. 

U.S. Census Bureau. "A00002 Population Density (Per Sq. Mile)." Social Explorer. Web. Dec 10, 2019. 

In text: (U.S. Census Bureau). 


Data Creator. Title of table, dates. Prepared by Social Explorer. Date retrieved. 

U.S. Census Bureau. A00002 Population Density (Per Sq. Mile), 2017. Prepared by Social Explorer. (accessed Dec 10, 2019). 



Using Social Explorer

A map of Illinois showing level of educational attainment by county Social Explorer is a library-licensed tool for accessing data, mostly about the United States on topics like demographics, health care, crime rates, educational attainment, housing, income and more. 

The videos below show you how to select data, mask the data to show just the state of Illinois, and how to create a report in table format from the data you've mapped. 

These last two are much easier when you have a file listing all of the counties in Illinois that you can download from the link above.


Social Explorer: Choose Data

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Starting from the Social Explorer dashboard, click the Explore button under the first set of data for the United States 
  2. You should now have a map of population density of the United States by state. Click change data to map a different set of data 
  3. A list of topics should appear. Choose your topic of interest, or to follow the example, choose Age. 
  4. You should now have a list of specific data sets. The first one that appears in the example is the American Community Survey 2017 5-Year Estimate. Scroll down and choose a data point. In the example, we choose Education > Population 25 Years and Over > Bachelor's Degree or Better. 
  5. Once you've selected a data point, close out of the data choice panel. Your map should update. 
  6. To view the data by county, select the drop down that says by State and change the Geography Level to County. 
  7. Scroll to zoom in 
  8. Roll over a county to see data for that county. 

Social Explorer: Mask Your Map to Show Just Illinois


Step by Step Instructions

  1. By default, Social Explorer shows you all of the available data. To show just the state of Illinois, you'll need to use a mask. 
  2. Once you've chosen your data click the button with the three vertical bars in the box where you chose your data. 
  3. Choose the option to Mask map data 
  4. Make sure your data is set to display by the State level geography. Click on the state of Illinois. This should mask the map to show just the state of Illinois and put the state in a list of selected geographies. 
  5. Click the teal Done button. 
  6. Change your geography to be at the county level. You should now have a map showing just the state of Illinois with data mapped by county. 

Note: The video shows an example where the geographies were chosen by uploading a list of counties in the state of Illinois, which is another option. 

Social Explorer: Change How Your Data is Displayed


Step by Step Instructions

  1. You can customize how your map data is displayed, including changing the cut points to match your assignment requirements. 
  2. Click the edit icon in the box with the data key. You can change the type of visualization (if the type matches the data you're using) and the color palette.  
  3. Choose Cutpoints to choose the breaks at which your data changes shade for each class of data. 
  4. You can set the number of classes as well as the method by which the classes are calculated. 
  5. Click the teal Done button.  

Tip: This is a very important part of your assignment. If you use Social Explorer to generate your map and data, be sure to keep track of how you decided to set the cut points so you can explain in your paper. 

Social Explorer: Create a Table from Mapped Data


Step by Step Instructions

  1. Once you have chosen your data you can create a table that you can edit in Excel. 
  2. Click the button with the three horizontal bars in the box where you chose your data and choose the option to Create report 
  3. Choose to Create report from Current table selection (instead of topic, which is the default). This will create the table from the data you have just mapped.  
  4. Choose the geographies you want in the report by either clicking on the map or (as is shown in the video), upload a list of geographies.
  5. Click the teal Create button. 
  6. A new window should open showing your data as a table. Go to the Excel tab to download the data in Excel format. You'll mostly likely want the Excel 2007 .xlsx version. The Excel file should download and give you a file you can open and manipulate. 

Social Explorer: Editing Downloaded Data