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Appearance - Browsers
There are a number of things that you can do to optimize the look of on your computer. We recommend browsing with either of these two free downloads:

Appearance - Resolution
NCES makes every effort possible to develop for our audience's varying graphics resolutions. We currently develop our pages for a minimum of 800 x 600 resolution. By using this as our guideline, we can be sure that everyone can enjoy horizontal-free scrolling as much as possible when viewing our pages. Of course our pages can be best viewed in 1024 x 768 resolution.

As mentioned, although we try to accommodate all screen resolutions some of our data tables are too large to fit on one screen in a 800 x 600 screen resolution. When this occurs we recommend changing your screen resolution to 1024 x 768 or higher. This is easily done on your individual computer by going to your "control panel" and selecting "display". Within display select "settings" and choose the screen resolution you would like.

If you feel the font size on the web page you are viewing is too small, you need to adjust the text size with your own browser settings. If you are using Internet Explorer or Firefox, hold the Ctrl key and turn the mouse wheel, or go to the "View" tab in the browser and choose "Text Size." This enables you to change the font size. Common browsers for Apple and Linux have the same options.

Appearance - Start-up Page
Make your browser's start-up page to get the latest in education information. If you are interested in education issues, then you would probably like to have your browser default to a site that satisfies your needs.

This three step process takes less than one minute! Choose your browser from the two options below and follow the appropriate instructions.

Internet Exp. 7.0+ Internet Explorer

  1. Select "Tools" and " Internet Options" from the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  2. Click on the tab labeled "General" and select "Home Page" from the options.
  3. Paste or type into the "Address" box and Click "Apply" then "OK."

Mozilla's Firefox 3.5+ Mozilla Firefox

  1. Select "Tools" then "Options" from the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  2. Select the tab labeled "general" and locate the entry for "Home Page."
  3. Paste or type in the "Location" dialog box. Click "OK."

The next time you open your browser, you'll begin with the NCES home page, your source for the latest in education information.

Portable Document Format (PDF) PDF File
Why we use PDF
Many NCES products placed on our website are created in Portable Document Format (PDF). They are most commonly denoted by the above icon. PDF is used because it maintains the original look and feel of large documents, and allows us to place more publications on the web in a quick and efficient manner. Further, PDF products are independent of platforms, applications, and distribution media.

How to obtain a PDF Reader
Versions of Acrobat Reader exist for all major computer platforms, including Windows, Macintosh, LINUX and several other operating systems. To download the reader, you'll need a Web browser (such as Mozilla's Firefox 3.5+ or Internet Explorer 7.0+) connected to the Internet. Please follow the instructions on the Adobe Acrobat download page to install the Acrobat Reader.

Following are the System Requirements for Acrobat Reader 7.0:

Windows System Requirements

  • Intel® Pentium® processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional or Home Edition (Service Pack 1 or 2), Windows 2000 (Service Pack 2), Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Windows Server 2003, or Windows NT (Service Pack 6 or 6a)
  • 128MB of RAM (256MB recommended)
  • Up to 90MB of available hard-disk space

Macintosh System Requirements

  • PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor
  • Mac OS X v10.2.8, 10.3, or 10.4
  • 128MB of RAM (256MB recommended)
  • Up to 110MB of available hard-disk space
  • Safari 1.2 browser supported for Mac OS X 10.3 or higher

Download the Adobe Acrobat Reader software now! This reader is free of charge.

Having problems with PDF Files?
Should you experience PDF files appearing as a blank window within Internet Explorer after downloading and are using Adobe Acrobat Reader version 4.0 or earlier, please upgrade to a later version.

If this does not resolve the issue please follow the following steps:

Use the "Save Target As" or "Save Link As" option to download the PDF file directly to your hard drive and bypass the Acrobat Reader plug-in.

  1. Using the right-side mouse button click on the file (click on the title link) you are interested in.
  2. Select the "save target as" option in Internet Explorer, or "save link as" in Netscape.
  3. Save as type should be "Adobe Acrobat Document" or "all files."
  4. Make sure you name the file (or accept the name supplied).
  5. Know the location of where you are saving it.
  6. Hit save.
  7. Use the Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file after downloading.

Accessibility and PDF's
Adobe Systems, Inc. is producing various products designed to make PDF documents accessible to persons using screen reading software. Their accessibility web pages describe their efforts. They also have a free downloadable accessibility plug-in called, MakeAccessible. This plug-in runs under Microsoft Windows 95 OSR 2.0, Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows NT 4.0 with SP 5 or SP 6, Windows 2000, or Windows XP. Each system should have at least 64 MB (128 MB recommended) of RAM per processor, 200 MB of virtual memory, and 870 K of disk space available. The MakeAccessible Plug-in creates a tagged Adobe PDF file from an untagged PDF file. This allows a PDF document to be read by a screen reader.

Other Acrobat Add-ons
Once you've downloaded and installed the Acrobat Reader, you'll be able to view PDF files simply by clicking on the link to the PDF file in your browser. Either the browser will handle the PDF file, or it will bring up another program for viewing the PDF file. Either way, a window will appear that contains buttons that work only for PDF files. Use these buttons to navigate through the file.

If you want to print the PDF file, you must use the print button located within the Adobe Acrobat viewer (usually this is just above the document on the left side). Use of the browser print button or the browser's "File, Print" command will not result in a correct printout.

The NCES website supports byteserving. Byteserving, also known as page-at-a-time or byte-range downloading, enables you to view a PDF file from a Web server before the entire file is downloaded.

Note: Acrobat 6.x doesn't byteserve PDF files smaller than 250KB on a fast modem connection (that is, broadband or LAN). However, Acrobat always byteserves PDF files on a slower modem connection.

Once you get byteserving working, if you'd like the full document to be downloaded in the background even as you browse through it, select the "Allow Background Download of Entire File" option in the General Preferences of the Acrobat Reader.


Video/Audio Playback and Flash
About Video and Audio Playback Media Player
NCES has adopted Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) as its standard for video deployment. Videos will be able to be viewed immediately using Windows Media Player, or can be downloaded for easier viewing. The downloaded version will always be better quality than the streamed or viewable copy; this is due to performance reasons. The Windows Media Player should automatically download any needed codecs (these are needed to view certain video formats).

How to obtain Windows Media Player
Click Here to acquire Windows Media Player.

About Adobe Flash Flash
NCES uses Adobe Flash in some of our applications. Adobe Flash Player displays web application front-ends, high-impact website user interfaces, interactive online advertising, and short-form to long-form animation. Designers and developers use Adobe Flash MX to develop distinctive and compelling content, revolutionary user interfaces, and rich applications for the web. It is pre-installed in most web browsers and on most computers. It is included in Windows 98 (including all new Windows 98 and Windows XP computers), Netscape Navigator, Apple Macintosh operating systems, America Online, and WebTV, among others.

How to obtain a Adobe Flash Player
Click Here to obtain a free Adobe Flash Player.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)
About Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)
NCES has adopted Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) as a graphics file format. SVG is a web development language based on XML. SVG, a W3C recommendation (web standard), enables web developers and designers to create dynamically generated, high-quality graphics from real-time data with precise structural and visual control. Through the use of SVG, we are able to offer dynamically generated, high-quality, scalable, interactive graphics from real-time data. Although many SVG viewers are available, NCES recommends the Adobe SVG Viewer 3.0 (or above) as a stable, well-supported viewer.

How to obtain Adobe's SVG Viewer
Visit Adobe SVG Viewer Download Area to download a free viewer.

ZIP Format Archive Files Zip File
Why we use ZIP
A Zip format allows either extremely large files, or files created in formats no longer widely used, to be combined and compressed and thus downloaded with more speed and ease. The user requires an "unzip" utility to extract files from an archive (all files for downloading have been compressed using zip archiving and compression). NCES uses Zip archiving for several of its newer applications, such as video, and for many data sets. In addition, some older reports are available only in a combination of file formats, such as Lotus .WK1 format for tables and plain ASCII for the text.

The time it takes to download a file depends on the size of the file and your connection speed. To estimate the time required to download a file we have provided a link to a "File Download Time Calculator."

How to obtain a ZIP Extractor
To acquire the decompressing utility for your computer's operating system, click on the appropriate link below:

Download a trial version of Winzip

Download a zip/unzip utility for Macintosh (MacZip)

Useful Downloads
The links below provide some useful downloads which can greatly minimize problems users encounter when viewing our site:

Internet Explorer 7.0+
Download the latest version of this popular browser to access the latest features on the NCES site and the rest of the Web.

Mozilla's Firefox 3.5+
Download the latest version of this popular browser to access the latest features on the NCES site and the rest of the Web.

Adobe Acrobat Reader
You will need to download this popular reader in order to view the various PDF files on our site.

Adobe Acrobat Reader - Help Page
This is the place to go for all your PDF problems related to printing, viewing, and downloading.

Adobe Acrobat Access
This is a link to a special Adobe site that talks about how to make PDF documents accessible for people with visual disabilities

Microsoft Word 2003 Viewer
Microsoft Word Viewer 2003 lets you open Word 2003 documents and documents created with all previous versions of Microsoft Word for Windows® and Microsoft Word for Macintosh. In addition to Word files, you can also open files saved in many other formats. With Word Viewer 2003, you can view, print, and copy documents to another program. However, you cannot edit an open document, save a document, or create a new document.

Microsoft Excel 2003 Viewer
With Excel Viewer 2003, you can open, view, and print Excel workbooks, even if you don't have Excel installed. You can also copy data from Excel Viewer 2003 to another program. However, you cannot edit data, save a workbook, or create a new workbook.

Microsoft Powerpoint Viewer
This download is for users who don't have Microsoft PowerPoint®; The PowerPoint Viewer 2003 allows people who use PowerPoint to share their presentations with people who do not have PowerPoint installed on their computers for versions Powerpoint 97 and later. You can use this viewer to view files created in both PowerPoint for Windows® and PowerPoint for the Macintosh. You can view and print presentations, but you cannot edit them in the PowerPoint Viewer.

Microsoft Windows Media Player
For streaming and playing audio and video content in formats such as WMA, MP3, WAV, AVI, MPEG and more, download this viewer.

Adobe Flash Player
Installing this free download of the AdobeFlash Player lets you experience animation and entertainment in your Web browser.

WinZip Trial
Download this popular zip/unzip utility for Windows.

Macintosh Zip Utility
Download a zip/unzip utility for Macintosh called MacZip.

Web Tools and Resources
The resources below provide some useful tools and information which may help when viewing our site:

Download Time Calculator
Visit this site to find out download times for various modem and connection speeds. It allows you to specify any file size.

Bandwidth Speed Test
Does your Internet connection appear fast or slow? Whether you are using a cable modem, digital subscriber line (DSL), integrated services digital network (ISDN) connection, or a plain old dial-up modem, the Bandwidth Speed Test will give you the answer.

HyperStat Online is an introductory-level hypertext statistics book. It is a good place to start if you are a statistics "newbie."

Statistics Calculator
The Statistics Calculator allows you to do all types of significance testing.

NCES Product Disclaimer
Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government.

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education