1406.0.55.005 - TableBuilder, User Guide  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/01/2019   
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This section includes:
Tables, maps and graphs


How do I access TableBuilder?

How much does TableBuilder cost?
  • Census TableBuilder Guest and Basic are free
  • Census Pro and other datasets can be accessed by purchasing a subscription

I have forgotten my password/User ID

Select the Forgotten Password or User ID link on the TableBuilder Log in page and follow the prompts.

If you have forgotten which email you registered with or your secret question and answer contact microdata.access@abs.gov.au.

I cannot log in with my email address

TableBuilder User ID is a number. If you have forgotten your User ID, click on Forgotten User ID from the TableBuilder Log in page.

How do I update my personal details

Log into the Registration Centre using the same User ID and password that you use for TableBuilder.

You can update:
  • your address
  • phone number
  • secret question/answer

You can also see which organisation you are a member of and see all the data series that you have access to.

How do I update my email address?

Your email address must match your organisation, and this can only be updated by an ABS staff member.

If you have changed your email address because you have changed your name, email microdata.access@abs.gov.au using your new email account. Provide us:
  • your old and new names
  • the name of your organisation
  • your User ID number

If you have changed your email address because you have changed organisations, ABS will remove you from your old organisation and add to your new organisation. This will give you access to your new organisation's subscribed paid products.

Using your new email account, email microdata.access@abs.gov.au with:
  • your name
  • the names of your old and new organisations
  • your User ID number

Can I share my log in details with colleagues or friends so they can access ABS registered products?

  • Each user needs to register individually in their own name
  • You have agreed to Conditions of use that you will not share your access credentials with any other person, including other people in your organisation
  • Additional organisation users can access your organisation's paid subscriptions for free
  • If users or organisations are found to have breached the terms and conditions, access may be revoked

I cannot see the dataset I want to use when I log into TableBuilder
  • Check you have logged into the correct TableBuilder system
  • Your organisation may not have subscribed to the data series you are trying to access. Check which datasets your organisation has access to in Registration Centre
  • Subscribe to additional data series in How to apply

Tables, maps and graphs

What are the largest tables, graphs or maps I can create in TableBuilder?
  • Tables where I can retrieve data on screen: 10,000 cells.
  • Large tables (need to be queued for retrieval): 40 million cells, including totals and wafers. Large tables may take several hours or days to produce depending on the size of the table and other large tables in the queue
  • Graphs: 1,000 cells
  • Maps: 1,000 cells
  • Download tables: depends on the third party software limits:
    - Excel 2003 has a limit of 255 columns x 65,000 rows.
    - Excel 2007 has a limit of 16,384 columns x 65,000 rows and less than 100,000 cells.
  • Guest users cannot submit large tables. You will need to register to use this feature

How can I reduce a large table?

Options to reduce the size of your table include:
  • Remove variable categories that you may not be interested in, such as Not applicable categories.
  • Group variable categories together that you want to include but do not need to view separately, by creating a Custom data group.
  • Move a variable to the wafer dimension, instead of a row or column. Each wafer is counted as a separate table for Large table mode. This does not reduce the size of your table but does allow you to work on a table without going into Large Table Mode.

How can I display my table more effectively?

There are a number of options to improve your displayed table layout. These do not affect your total cell count for Large table mode.
  • Hide totals, by clicking on the symbol beside each variable within your table headings.
  • Select Zero suppression for rows and/or columns in the Options button menu. This will hide rows or columns where all cells are zeros. If you are using wafers, then this option will hide rows or columns where all cells are zeros across all wafers, so rows or columns of zeros may appear in some wafers.

I can't add Mesh Blocks to my table

TableBuilder has a limit of adding 60,000 categories from any one variable to a table. As there are more than 60,000 Mesh Blocks in each of Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland you will need to select fewer geographic categories when using Mesh Blocks.

Why do I have dashes in my table?

Tables over 10,000 cells are in Large table mode. You will not see your full table in the screen and cells contain dashes. To view your table data, queue the table for processing, then download it once it has completed.

Can I upload my table, graph or map back into TableBuilder?

No, you can only save tables in TableBuilder and then open them in a later session.

To re-open a map or graph in a later session you need to save the table used to create the map or graph. Then click on Graph view or Map view to view them again.

After editing or sharing a custom group, upload is not working

There are a number of errors that can occur when Uploading custom data including:
  • leading zeros have been dropped when editing in Excel
  • reusing an existing custom data group name
  • not having access to the right dataset, or not having that dataset open when uploading
  • errors in the header row
  • loading a file type other than CSV

My table with nested variables on a row, column or wafer is causing problems

Nested variables, where there are multiple variables nested on one row, column or wafer, can cause issues for some TableBuilder functions:
  • Nesting up to 10 variables is possible for some variables but may cause issues. Nesting fewer variables is recommended, particularly for large classifications.
  • Mapping is not available if a geographic field is nested. Mapping is available if the nesting is on the opposite axis to the one that contains the geographic field.
  • Not all Download formats are supported for nested variables.

I cannot download my table or my downloaded table does not include all of the table features

Not all Download formats are available for all table types. There are limits relating to the size of the table, whether the table includes nested variables, whether the table includes relative standard errors or percentages.

My classifications/map view are not displaying properly

You may need to upgrade your web browser. TableBuilder works best with Safari 8.0.2, Internet Explorer 11, Chrome 52 and Firefox 47.0.

Map view is currently available for Census TableBuilder datasets only.

KMZ downloaded files are missing areas when uploaded to Google Earth

Only use the online version of Google Earth in a Chrome browser. You will need to save your downloaded KMZ file first and make sure settings are set to 'enable KML file import'.

The category labels in my graph do not display properly in Graph View

If the category labels are very long, they may not be suitable to graph in TableBuilder. If the category labels are too long, they may be truncated with "..." in the key below the graph and in the text that appears when clicking on the graph.

To best display your graph, download the table and use the graph options in another application such as Excel.

The category labels in my graph do not all display when I download my graph

If there are too many categories in a graphed variable, only the first page of categories will display in the downloaded PDF or PNG. Instead of graphing in TableBuilder, then downloading the graph, download the table instead.

To best display your graph, download the table and use the graph options in another application such as Excel.


What geographic areas and variables are available in TableBuilder?

A list of geographic areas, variables and classifications is available for Census TableBuilder. The data item list is available on the Downloads tab.

Details of all other datasets available in TableBuilder datasets are in the Available microdata page. The TableBuilder links next to each dataset name link to the associated microdata product. See the Downloads tab of the microdata product for the Data Item List.

Is Census data before 2006 available in TableBuilder?

No. TableBuilder includes Census data from 2006 onwards. See Historical Census Data for earlier data.

Can I create my own variables and classifications to use in a table?
  • Users can create a new category by collapsing an existing variable. For example, Age categories in single years can be collapsed to create a new category for 0-17 year olds. See Custom data.
  • Multiple variables cannot be combined to create a new variable. For example, Age and Sex cannot be merged to create a single variable. However, filters can be used to display certain categories only. For example, Sex=Male and Age=17 can be added as filters to a table so that the data in a table applies only to male 17 year olds. See Add and remove a filter.
  • Users can also upload their own variable classifications. New classifications must use existing variable categories within TableBuilder. For example, a new geographic classification that has been constructed using Meshblocks can be uploaded to TableBuilder. See Custom data.

Why do I have only zeroes in my table?

There are several reasons this may happen:
  • Sparsity settings may prevent your table from displaying data. Some datasets have an additional quality measure applied to tables with too many very small cells. This measure is particularly relevant to survey datasets and has not been applied to Census TableBuilder datasets. Very small cells of a table using survey data may not be reliable, as not enough records have been selected in the sample to accurately estimate the population for that combination of characteristics.
  • The ABS sometimes releases 'shell tables' in advance of releasing Census data, to allow users to become familiar with the variables and structure of the dataset and to set up and save tables for future use. If your table includes variables that have not been released yet in the dataset you are using, it will show zeroes.
  • There may be an outage with the TableBuilder system. If the issue is not caused by sparsity or shell tables, report the issue by contacting 1300 135 070 or emailing microdata.access@abs.gov.au.

How does perturbation affect my results?

Perturbation is applied across all non-zero cells in a table, including the totals cells. Perturbation may change the true cell value by either increasing or decreasing the value by a small amount. This introduces almost no bias. However, small cells may change by a large amount in proportion to the true value, and therefore should not be relied upon. Other factors also affect the reliability of small cells, such as sampling error, respondent errors and processing errors.

Why don't the interior cells in my table add up to the totals displayed?

All non-zero cells in tables are subject to perturbation, a small adjustment made to cell values, including totals, to protect the confidentiality of the data. In TableBuilder, totals are not calculated by summing the interior values of the table. Instead, more accurate totals are provided by calculating the true total, and then perturbing this value.

Some older TableBuilder datasets use the additivity technique to make further adjustments to the data to ensure that the interior cells add up to the totals. As additivity is not required for confidentiality purposes, most datasets in TableBuilder do not use the additivity technique. The Census of Population and Housing datasets used this technique until June 2017, when it was removed from all Census TableBuilder datasets.

Why is there sometimes such a large difference between the sum of the interior cells and totals displayed?

Perturbation makes small changes to all estimates including both the interior cells of the table and the totals. If you attempt to reconstruct a total on the basis of the perturbed interior cells, you will add together the small changes made to each cell which may result in a large change relative to the perturbed total. It is recommended that totals are constructed in TableBuilder, rather than by summing the interior cells from an exported table.

Can I create medians and means in TableBuilder?

Summation options, ranges and quantiles,including medians and means can be created in TableBuilder for continuous variables. Some datasets, such as Census TableBuilder, contain only categorical variables. To create medians and means for categorical variables, download the data into a spreadsheet to generate these formulas.


TableBuilder is timing out

TableBuilder will time out when no action has been taken for 30 minutes. Log in again using your user ID and password.

I cannot retrieve my table, the Retrieve button is not working

If your table exceeds 10,000 cells it is in Large table mode. Use the Queue Job button to retrieve your table.

When I submit a large table, it is not returned

Large tables (over 10,000 cells) are sent to a queue for processing. The time it takes for the system to process and return your table will depend on size of your table and the number of other tables in the queue. Large tables may take several hours or days to process. Check the Saved Tables tab to see if your large table has finished processing, then download it once it has completed.

It takes a long time to add a new variable to my table

Check that you do not have the Automatically Retrieve Data option (looped arrow on the Retrieve Data button) selected. When this option is activated, TableBuilder automatically updates the data whenever the table is changed, which can be slow for large tables or large datasets.

While in large table mode, it can be slow to drag variables between rows, columns and wafers. This may happen for:
  • large datasets
  • large variable classifications with hundreds or thousands of categories.

The Save Tables and Custom Data options are greyed out/not available

Guest users cannot save tables or create custom data. You will need to register to enable these features.

In Custom Groups, is there a limit on the number of areas that can be included in my custom geographic area?

There is no limit on the number of areas that can be included for your custom group. However, when you are editing very large number of areas the system may slow down.

I cannot retrieve a map, Map View is not working

  • you are logged into Census TableBuilder
  • your Geographical field is not nested with another field
  • you have not mapped more than 1000 cells. You might need to do several tables/maps when using mesh blocks
  • you are using browsers Internet Explorer 11, Chrome 52, Firefox 47.0 and Safari 8.0.2

Map view 'Single' option is not adding selections back to my map

This is a known error. To add areas back into your map view return to Table view and add the geography directly from the variable list into the table.

I have missing map areas in my KMZ download file

To fix this either
  • upload your file using the online version of Google Earth in a Chrome browser. You will need to save your downloaded KMZ file first and make sure settings are set to 'enable KML file import'.
  • extract your data from TableBuilder and download the relevant geographic boundaries from ASGS publication. Then join them together in MapInfo to create your map or do spatial analysis.

When downloading my Large Table to Excel 2007 my download fails to run in Job Queue

Press the View button in the job queue to reopen the table and then resubmit using a CSV file format that can be opened in Excel.

An error message box is displayed asking you to contact your administrator

If you get an error 'The requested URL was rejected. Please consult with your administrator.' you will need to provide details of the actions you were performing in TableBuilder when the error occurred. Send the details by email to microdata.access@abs.gov.au.

I am having a technical problem with TableBuilder, how do I report this?

If you are not able to resolve your query through the help provided in this guide available, contact 1300 135 070 or email microdata.access@abs.gov.au.

If you would like further assistance with analysing your table results, submit an Information Consultancy request form. This is a charged service.

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