The Census collected information about people, households and their housing. Results are presented either as simple counts, such as the number of young children, or as figures which relate one topic to another, such as the number of children in one parent families. The linking of topics is one of the most valuable features of a Census.

Most figures are about the people who live in an area, but others are about people who work in an area or about migrants from an area.

Consistent and comparable

The figures are set out so that it is easy to compare one area with another, or with regional or national values. There are summary figures for quick reference, as well as the full results for deeper analysis. Those for small areas are less detailed, but figures are comparable up the geographical scale.

Neighbourhood to national

Figures are available for a range of areas. The most local are Output Areas, each with around 125 households, which build to larger areas - such as parishes, wards, local and health authorities, constituencies, and towns and cities. Boundaries overlaid on Ordnance Survey maps are viewable on-line to help pinpoint an area and the figures for it.

A full range of results

Results were issued in concurrent phases so that figures for all local areas and for England and Wales as a whole were available at the same time. The volume of output meant that following the first results released in September 2002 there were a series of main releases which began in February 2003 and were completed in December 2004.

The main results are in the form of standard pre-defined sets of statistics, with more detail for larger populations. These provide ready comparability between areas, and are the basis for reports and further local statistics.

The following diagram illustrates the increase of statistical detail with diminishing geographical detail. Also, as more layers of statistics are available for larger areas, it is possible to ‘drill down’ from summary to detail within a single area, such as a ward.

A range of media

Census results are available on a range of media. All important figures, in summary or in full, are online to view or download. A selection are available in printed reports often including CDs with supplementary results and software to view and manipulate.

CDs and DVDs are used either for quick reference or for further analysis, including software for viewing and manipulation, or without software for delivery of large files for use in users' own systems.

The availability of each release of data, including details of the media on which it is available, can be found using the related links above.