Survey or Census-related definition:
Summary levels specify the content and hierarchical relationships of the geographic elements that are required to tabulate and summarize data. Each summary level has an assigned 3-digit summary level code to help programmers link each specific summary level to its appropriate use in a table, map, or other data summarization format.
Some examples of summary levels are:
060: State-County-County Subdivision
150: State-County-Census Tract-Block Group
314: Metropolitan Statistical Area-Metropolitan Division
430: Urban Area-State-County
It is important to distinguish between a summary level and a geographic entity. A summary level represents the concept of a geographic level. For example, summary level 050, State-County, represents the concept of a county within a state. By comparison, a geographic entity covers territory "on the ground." An example at the State-County level is Madison County, Indiana.
Geography Division definition:
A geographic level for which data are reported. Summary levels range from very large reporting units such as "State" to much smaller reporting units such as "Census Tract". A summary level may trace a hierarchy of nesting geographies such as "State" to "County" to "Census Tract", or it may cross between two or more geographic hierarchies to produce reporting units that are only portions of geographies. For example, summary level "State-Place-County" crosses the "State-Place" hierarchy with the "State-County" hierarchy, and may create units that cover only a portion of one county.
The term "summary level" can be considered synonymous with "geographic type", which is the term used throughout FactFinder's "Select Geography" pages.
A three-character code is associated with each summary level.
Related terms: Summary level code list