Using the selection toolbox

Creating a selection

This guide will walk you through using the selection toolbox available when creating a mask or creating a report from maps. Let's dive right in!

As of right now, Social Explorer users can select geographies and areas of interest using five different selection tools: 

Using the point selection tool

 point selection tool is best used when you want to select individual geographies. 

  1. In the right-hand sidebar, select the data layer you wish to use to create your mask. 

    You may also choose to include nested layers when masking an area. These will show up as we zoom into the map. If none of the nested geographies are checked, you will only see the geographies you selected.

  2. In the upper right corner of the map, click the  point selection tool.
  3. Click all the geographies you want to add to your selection. 

    To unselect a geography you already selected, click it again. To unselect all selected geographies, click Clear All in the right-hand sidebar. 

Using the rectangle and circle selection tools

square selection tool rectangle selection and circle selection tool circle selection tools allow you to select multiple geographies at once. 

  1. In the right-hand sidebar, select the data layer you wish to use to create your mask. 
  2. In the upper right corner of the map, click the square selection tool rectangle selection or circle selection tool circle selection tool.
  3. Click on the map and drag to draw a rectangle or a circle. 

    To move the map, hold the spacebar and click and drag the map around. To move the shape you're drawing, press the spacebar while drawing and move the shape. To cancel, press Esc while drawing the shape. 

Using the polygon selection tool

 polygon selection tool allows you to select multiple geographies at once.

  1. In the right-hand sidebar, select the data layer you wish to use to create your mask. 
  2. In the upper right corner of the map, click the  polygon selection tool. 
  3. Click on the map to start drawing. 

    Unlike the square selection tool rectangle selection and circle selection tool circle selection tools, you don't have to drag when drawing a polygon. Instead, click on the map where you want to add corners. 

  4. Double-click anywhere on the map, or click the starting point of the polygon to close it. 

Selection modes explained

 polygon selectionsquare selection tool rectangle selection, and circle selection tool circle selection tools have three different modes. 

We also added new units of length to the Rectangle and Circle tools. To measure small areas, you can now use yards or even feet. We also added kilometers and meters for all the metric lovers out there. Our circle selection tool got even more customizable: you can now manually enter a precise radius. Simply, select the circle tool, click anywhere on the map, enter the radius, and hit OK. 

Using the line selection tool

line-selection-tool line selection tool is best used when the geographies you want to select are lined up one after the other. 

  1. In the right-hand sidebar, select the data layer you wish to use to create your mask. 
  2. In the upper right corner of the map, click the line-selection-tool line selection tool. 
  3. Click anywhere on the map to start drawing a line. 

    You don't have to click and drag when drawing a line. Instead, click on the map where you want to add line breaks. 

  4. Double-click anywhere on the map when you're done drawing the line. 

Downloading and uploading selections

Selecting geographies can be pretty straight-forward on the state level. However, when you get down to the finer geographies, such as census tracts, the task can be rather challenging. This can get even more gruesome when you need to apply the same selection on a different project. We solved this problem by enabling selection download and upload. 

  1. In the lower-right corner, click Download
  2. Enter the name of the CSV file if prompted. 

You can easily reuse your selection on any map. 

  1. Find the CSV file you downloaded on your hard drive. 
  2. Drag and drop the file to the area marked with dotted lines in the right-hand sidebar. 
    or
    Click Browse in the right-hand sidebar, navigate to the CSV file you previously downloaded, select the file, and click Open

Once the upload is complete, the selection will instantly load on the map you’re viewing, regardless of the variable displayed.