Simple Spreadsheets

Next once-a-year course: March 2025

Do Spreadsheets Stress You Out?

Need to make sense of spreadsheets? Not sure where to start? Chances are, there’s a faster and easier way to get it done.

Spreadsheets Should Be Simple

In this course, you'll master a step-by-step process for exploring, cleaning, analyzing, and tabulating your dataset. These spreadsheet skills will save your time, energy, and sanity.


What's Included

You’ll be on your way from spreadsheet stress to superstardom in no time. Here's what's included to make that happen.

You can also see what participants are saying, learn about the instructor, skim the FAQs, and register for the live course.


Course Dates

By popular demand, this course is being delivered live (!) again.

The next opening will be in March 2025.

Exact dates and times will be announced in early 2025.

Please email our team ([email protected]) if you have scheduling / time zone preferences. We try to accommodate as many of YOUR preferences as possible.



Module 1: Setting Up Your Spreadsheet

You'll use drop-down menus, data validation, formulas, and pivot tables to automate your entire workflow.

Module 2: Navigate Your Spreadsheets

You’ll learn exactly what to do when you start a new project--like building a Data Dictionary, naming your files well, and converting CSV files to Excel files.

Module 3: Merge Variables Together and Pull Them Apart

Most datasets come to us in pieces. You might have a few variables in one file and a few other variables in another file. You'll combine all these disparate data sources into a single, master dataset that you can use for your analyses and for your visualizations. You'll join tables with lookup functions and concatenation, and then peel them apart with a technique called text to columns.

Module 4: Format, Clean, and Recode the Data

You've built a master dataset. Now it's time to clean up that messy data! In this module, you'll:

  • transform variables like dates, names, numbers, percentages, and currencies into formats you can actually use.
  • recategorize values with techniques =if, which are must-have skills for anyone dealing with data.
  • define outliers--and learn how to handle them.
  • identify missing data and deal with duplicates.

Module 5: Summarize the Data with Formulas

Most data courses deliver a totally random smattering of formulas. In this course, I'm focusing on the analytical techniques that you'll need most often, especially if you're a scientist, researcher, or evaluator.

You'll see familiar faces like average and median. You'll also meet new friends like kurtosis, quartiles, countif, and sumif. I'll explain what these terms are, how to create the formulas, and how to apply the techniques to your own projects.

Module 6: Summarize the Data with Pivot Tables

If you're brand new to pivot tables--prepare to have your mind blown! And if you're familiar with pivot tables, prepare to learn some lesser-known features that you may have missed. This will probably be one of your favorite topics from the entire course.

Module 7: Putting It All Together

You've learned the basics. Now it's time to apply your skills in new ways! We'll walk through datasets from start to finish. These case studies cover:

  1. demographic data,
  2. satisfaction surveys,
  3. pre-post tests, and
  4. public health data.


Bonus Lessons

Real-Life Excel Test from a Job Interview

Bonus! You'll see if you can pass the same Excel test that I took for an analytics job interview. (29 min)

Passing the Excel Certification Exam

You'll learn about the Microsoft certification process so that you'll be prepared to ace the exam. (42 min)


Case Studies

Wondering what's happening in similar industries? In these case studies, you'll learn about your colleagues' datasets. You'll see us combine spreadsheets; add formulas and pivot tables; and create charts together.

Case studies include:

  • Kharaam S. (39 min)
  • Akimi S. (38 min)
  • Kristen S. (55 min)

Guest Speakers

You'll learn from:

  1. Bill Jelen, a.k.a. Mr. Excel (48 min)
  2. Maryfrances Porter and Alison Nagel West from the Partnership for Strategic Impact (59 min)
  3. Asya Spears from Rose Data Studio (49 min)
  4. Mynda Treacy from My Online Training Hub (44 min)

Office Hours

Want me to look at your own datasets? Come to Office Hours!

We meet about every other week for 60 minutes. Your tuition includes all the Office Hours held in 2025. That's 25+ live sessions with me!

Here are some of the spreadsheet topics that we've tackled together:

  • Ellen's lookup questions (vlookup vs. hlookup vs. xlookup)
  • Gerda's survey process (how to cleverly set up formulas behind the scenes so that new survey results are automatically cleaned, tallied, and graphed)
  • Pros/cons of Excel, Sheets, R, and others
  • Starting to Analyze Aimee's Spreadsheet (Pivot Tables vs. Formulas; Cleaning/Re-Coding Variables; Raw vs. Clean)
  • Sally's Survey Data from 20-50 Trainings Per Year

Additional Support


After each of the live classes, we add auto-generated captions to the videos and upload them to the course website.

Certificates of Completion

Wow your boss and boost your resume.

Private Data Vizards Community

Our LinkedIn group is a great place to connect with colleagues, post drafts, get feedback from each other.


What Participants Are Saying

9,300+ participants from around the globe have taken our online courses since 2018.

Here's how those researchers, evaluators, scientists, and professors are describing this course.

"I love the format… detailed explanation, repetition, tips and tricks, the ability for us to practice... ability to access it whenever we need it, etc. I learned many valuable things, but perhaps the vlookup is most useful, as I don’t think I’d have learned that on my own. I’ve done pretty much all the things you said not to, so it was good to see the correct way to do things or at least understand why I was having trouble. Thanks for the great training."

- Kristin Gushuliak, United Way Regina

"You have helped me tremendously and I keep paying it forward by getting hundreds of my students connected to you and Depict Data Studio! I am so glad I invested early in your data viz training workshops. Lifetime Access means the world to me and I am very grateful I have access to these courses whenever I need a reminder on how to do things!!"

- Dr. Lori Thompson, Senior Lecturer, Central Washington University

"While I was taking Ann Emery’s course, I was given a large dataset that required hundreds of VLOOKUPs. Her mention of using F4 saved me multiple hours that would have been lost in manually inserting four dollar signs in each lookup. It is this type of time-saving tip that made her course most valuable for me. Even after using Excel professionally for 18 years, I learned more efficient ways to do almost everything that I’ve been doing, and plenty of new skills too. Now that the course is finished, what I value most is having a one-stop shop for Excel tips. No more google searching – I just go back to the course and refresh my memory with Ann’s short and to-the-point videos."

- Kristen Degan, Senior Associate - Monitoring and Evaluation, Sharp Insight, LLC

"I work with charities and social enterprises in the UK. I carry out external evaluations but also help to build the capacity of the organisations in evaluation. I have taken part in a number of Excel courses in the past but these were all generic and therefore only somewhat useful. This course is exactly what any evaluator needs. It is full of useful tips for commons issues you may have. I have learnt many ways to speed up my analysis. I have learnt lots of new formulas and been given confidence that I was doing the right things for ones I was already using. The presentation of the course was also really useful for me. I could check in and do 20 minutes here and an hour there. It was also useful to have lifetime access as there are points in my schedule where I am very busy for months eg writing up reports and I have no spare time for learning and development. I am planning to do the data vis course next. Finally, I love Ann's style of presentation. It is never dull and the pace is perfect. "

- Sarah Menzies, Evaluator in the UK

"The Simple Spreadsheets course provides the necessary skills for working professionals who need a solid understanding of data analysis in Excel, but don't have the time or desire for an overly technical course. This course is designed with users in mind, especially those with limited exposure or comfort with Excel. However, as someone who is quite comfortable working in Excel, I benefited from learning Ann's tips and tricks for organizing my spreadsheets and how to get the most out of Excel's features (e.g. conditional formatting, spark lines, pivot tables, etc.). In my current role, I provide support and training to 15 staff members across multiple countries and timezones on all areas of M&E. Data analysis has long been a skill that I've struggled to teach others, especially in a virtual format. After taking Ann's course I learned some cool new skills for myself, but better yet I learned how to walk others through an analysis project from start to finish -- from how to setup a spreadsheet, to data cleaning and recoding, to summarizing data with formulas, comparing variables with pivot tables, and finally how to present and share analyses. Ann's simple step-by-step approach has been tremendously useful in my work with others and I will continue to draw on what I learned for years to come. Thank you Ann!"

- Mia Schmid-Velasco, Monitoring & Evaluation Officer, Namati

"As a 20+ year Excel user I can not BELIEVE the things I didn’t know, and that I learned to master in moments from Ann's brilliant and engaging teaching. This course is by far the most well prepared and executed online course I have ever taken. The videos are short, and perfectly instructed. The course materials are actual Excel files embedded with the skills, tricks and formulas that are taught in the video segments. As far as who this course is best suited to, I think it could help Excel users of all levels, from beginners to advanced (which is what I would have called myself before taking this course and realizing my knowledge gaps!). For beginners it would be a one-stop shop of all you need to know to excel at Excel. For long-time users it will provide short-cuts, helpful formulas and other tricks you might not have known were hiding in this program. I truly can't say enough about it, and have already recommended it to research colleagues, data/social indicator experts and policy folks."

- Lynn Davey, Ph.D, Davey Strategies

"I am a university researcher and have a lot of familiarity with data collection and statistical analysis programs/platforms (e.g. SPSS, SAS, etc.), but needed a low-cost, widely-used data collection and analysis tool I could recommend and teach to the community partners with whom I conduct research. I have known for a long time that Excel was likely the solution to my problem, but could never find time to learn to use it, except in the most basic ways (sort, sum). Last summer, I took Ann Emery's Simple Spreadsheets course and dramatically improved my Excel acuity. *Plus* the course was fun, straightforward, and immediately useful. Having the modules available for lifetime access meant that I could make up sessions I missed, and revisit material on which I needed refreshers. This course was more than worth the time and money I put into it, and I continue to learn and benefit from it (almost a year later). I highly recommend this course!"

- Sarah V. Suiter, Vanderbilt University

"Before taking the class, I was spending unnecessary and frustrating hours trying to sort and copy while cleaning a large data set on child and parent outcomes in a home visiting program. The unit on VLOOKUP changed my work life, saving me days of work! Ann's sessions are short, easy to follow and immediately applicable. I highly recommend the Simple Spreadsheets course to anyone interested in strengthening their Excel skills"

- Nadia, Research Analyst

"I’ve known Ann for 10 years and in that time I’ve learned a lot from her. Her vision for turning text into something that a lay person would understand, visually, has been a life-saver. She has creative ideas that many organizations can turn into real world application. I’ve valued the trainings I’ve received from her and continue to learn new things in each class."

- Joyce Shelton, Senior Child Welfare and Education Operations Specialist, ICF

"This is a fantastic course for anyone who works intermittently with quantitative data sets and wants to build on any level of Excel skills. Even if you work daily with Excel already, you're bound to learn time-saving shortcuts. For those, like me, who have relied on others to do much of the Excel work, it's a godsend. Ann's short sessions and lucid, easy manner make it completely digestible, and, while I need to return to the course content frequently to remind me things I've learned and need refreshed, I feel so much more confident in this program. In addition, I've learned how to use Excel to help me improve the look of my reporting -- which means it will be more effective for my clients. Thank you, Ann! I'm so happy I decided to spend the money on this course. It has been more than worth it."

- Summer Wood

"I first heard of this course through a training opportunity at work. Being the data-junky that I am, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to learn something new. I was not disappointed! This course is great for all walks of life. Whether it’s the hum drum of daily data entry or pulling together a final report, there are countless tidbits I now use on a daily basis. I went from hand counting and color coding to pivot tables and VLookUp. Albeit shakily at first, I slowly got the hang of it. The new approaches Ann shared changed the way I view data. Her teaching style is conversational and made me feel comfortable."

- Tyler Small, Grant County Community Corrections

"As the learning officer at a small foundation, I regularly work with program staff that have vastly different skills and comfort levels with data collection and analysis. After completing this course, I feel like I understand Excel better and can therefore be a stronger coach for others. I have used some of Ann's explanations and techniques with staff and watched us make some real strides in how we approach and use data as a team. Thank you Ann!"

- Christine Mitton, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

"I've learned many helpful tips. Even things as simple as how to highlight all the cells in a sheet, sort them by a particular variable(s), and order them in a specific way have saved me time and frustration. I have on multiple occasions gone back to lessons I've completed to watch them again and repeat the steps with my own work. Best of all, Ann speaks in an engaging, easy to understand way that makes learning Excel almost fun!"

- Judy Lee, Evergreen Evaluation & Consulting, Inc.

"Ann's course will be a real timesaver for independent evaluators, non-profits and public agencies alike! The logically organized videos show you step-by-step hacks and best practices for organizing and cleaning datasets. It covers all the tricks you wish you learned in grad school. I also appreciated Ann's encouraging demeanor and generosity in taking time to answer my questions. If you want to improve your data cleaning/management knowledge, invest in this course! Knowing how to use conditional formatting to create data bars and highlight duplications in my large dataset has saved me tons of time. Thanks Ann!"

- Robin Kipke, Evaluation Associate, University of California, Davis

"This course is great for staff at small non profits who use Excel. It's an affordable way to get professional development in segments that are easy to fit into your schedule. It's great to be able to digest the info, try it out in your own scenarios and then re-watch segments as necessary. This course helped me display data in easy 'bites' for our board and staff to digest. I also really enjoyed the pivot table set of videos--they were way more helpful than anything I've ever seen before. Ann's explanations are very clear and her examples are relatable to our nonprofit work. Thanks, Ann! I'm so glad to have found this course!"

- Mary Henriques, Development Director, Valley Family Center

"This course is perfect for people who are novice users as well as more experienced Excel users. I have been using Excel for many years, but learned many tips and tricks to help expedite my work and reduce errors. If you have been cutting and pasting sheets together like I have, then you will love the material Ann offers in her course. I also love the fact that I can go back and look at the videos right when I need to figure something out."

- Beth Crawford, Ohio State University

"Resources at a non-profit can be scarce; if you use Excel, take this class now! Ann K. Emery's class "Simple Spreadsheets" helps you harness its lesser-known and more advanced data and visualization powers. As a former Excel trainer, I learned so much from this class. For example, your supervisor wants an additional piece of information in your report? No need to re-export all the data when Ann breaks down the very scary vlookup function into its component parts to help you add that column of data to specific records. You'll wonder how you ever lived without vlookup. Data hygiene of your database is very important. Using conditional formatting and filters help make this daunting task much, much easier. Lastly, the case studies reinforce what you've learned throughout the course with real-life projects. Thank you, Ann, for sharing your vast knowledge with us. You've made my job much easier."

- Adrienne Giovino, Prospect Research Analyst

"I took this course to refresh my spreadsheet skills in advance of a project for which I'd have to train NGO staff in excel basics. I've since recommended the course to many of my 1st-year graduate students in evaluation and my son, an undergraduate learning statistics for the first time. The course is perfect for those with limited exposure to statistics and those who are early in the process of mastering excel as an evaluation and analytic tool."

- Robin Lin Miller

"This course is great for someone who does not have very much experience in excel to the advanced level. No matter how much experience you think you have, it does not hurt to learn new work arounds and short cuts to save time. The videos are short and easy to follow. I would highly recommend this class."

- Chris Nefas, MA, Research Analyst

"This course is for anyone who uses Excel on a regular basis. So many useful tips and tricks you’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t take the course sooner! Really enjoyed it, and love that you can go back and look at specific techniques again. I’m definitely getting more out of Excel now."

- Christa Valles, Sr. Policy Analyst, Sound Cities Association

"This course is great for those endeavoring to use Excel in ways perhaps they haven't yet been able to manage. Getting clear on the formulas and short cuts have expanded my capacity for using Excel and I have been able to translate that into better products for clients."

- Helen Ries

"This course has been instrumental in expanding my Excel skill set. I use Excel daily in analyzing my agency's data. Each lesson has provided me with new information and techniques. I've learned how to efficiently and effectively use Excel to complete my work in less time. I especially appreciate the lesson on using Concatenate and have used it for multiple mergers of data. Having this in video format, so I can return again and again to the video for review, has been incredibly helpful. Thank you for breaking down the many functions of Excel in easy to digest videos!"

- Amy Dralle, CQI Supervisor at The Center for Youth & Family Solutions

"This course is for beginners and veterans of spreadsheets. The easy progression takes you on a journey of increased functions, tips and uses. As a project manager I been able to incorporate more efficient functionality into my spreadsheets for both data analysis and tracking. I highly recommend this course for everyone. Thank you Ann K Emery!"

- Janet Flynn, Prosper Canada

"I’m a lawyer with business clients. One key aspect of my job is presenting data in a way that clients can easily digest. I found Ann’s course incredibly instructive. Excel is such a powerful tool, and this course is a great way to learn to master it, whether one is a beginner or thinks of oneself as an expert. I’m going to make sure that my coworkers take the course."

- Bing Edwards

"This course was extremely useful. I'm a self taught fairly advanced excel user and long time evaluator but Ann's tips on how to set up, clean, and quickly scan data for patterns were fabulous. There wasn't on big thing I took from it, but lots of small time savers that have already revolutionized the way I use excel. Worth every penny!"

- Joy Stewart Riffle, QA Design and Innovation Specialist, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies

"This course has helped me in so many ways. I considered myself to be fairly competent with excel and spreadsheets. If I had to pick one thing, this course helped me be more efficient in my workflow saving me time."

- Gerda Zonruiter, Evaluation Consultant, Centre for Organizational Effectiveness

"Simple Spreadsheets helped introduce me to PivotTables, something I never took the time to learn before. This is a great beginner course!"

- Vanessa Stoquert, Academic Assessment Coordinator, University of South Carolina College of Nursing

"This course helped me learn the basics of data science techniques in Excel and gave me a foundation for learning other programs to continue cleaning, analyzing, and interpreting data. It is great for a beginner, but also helped me refresh my knowledge and learn many new tricks that I use everyday."

- Gwen F. Price, Research Associate II, Vital Research


About the Instructor

Your Instructor

Ann K. Emery
Ann K. Emery

Ann K. Emery is an internationally-acclaimed speaker who equips organizations to get their data out of dusty spreadsheets and into real-world conversations.

Each year, she delivers over 100 keynotes, workshops, and webinars with the aim of equipping organizations to visualize data more effectively.

She has been invited to speak in 30 states and 11 countries; 9,000 people have enrolled in her online training academy; and she has consulted to 200 organizations, including the United Nations, Centers for Disease Control, and Harvard University.

She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a Master’s degree from George Mason University.

After traveling full-time as a digital nomad, Ann now resides in Florida along with her husband and five children.



Frequently Asked Questions

Is this course asynchronous, or live?
It's entirely live! You'll get Zoom links for our March 2025 course. Later, you'll also get Zoom links for our live Office Hours sessions. As an added bonus, there are asynchronous lessons, too. You'll get access to recorded lessons with guest speakers, case studies, and additional spreadsheet topics.
What if I can't make the live sessions?
We post the recordings to the course website immediately. We add auto-generated captions to the recordings, too.
Can I re-watch the class later?
Yes, and you'll get lifetime access to the recordings. "Lifetime" is a tricky word -- you'll get access for the lifetime of the course. As long as I'm offering Simple Spreadsheets, you'll get access to the recordings. I update the course every year or two, so you'll always get the latest and greatest version. In other words, the new 'n' improved course will replace the older course.
How long does it take to complete?
The course is the equivalent of a 2-day workshop (but broken into shorter segments). And, you'll be invited to 25+ hour-long Office Hours sessions throughout 2025. You *don't* need to complete 100% of the course to be successful. For example, you might choose to watch just some of the case studies that seem most relevant to your own workplace. The typical student attends some, but not all, of the live Office Hours sessions.
A bunch of us want to register. How many people do we need to qualify for a group rate?
Groups of 2-24 people get 25% off. Groups of 25+ get 50% off. Please email [email protected] and let us know the staff members' names and email addresses. Then, our Operations Manager will send you a single invoice with your group rate applied. It'll be much faster for you than enrolling people one at at time.
The registration page is adding sales tax, but my organization is tax-exempt. What should I do?
You can either: (1) pay the sales tax, request a refund from the hosting company (Teachable) later, and get your refund in 4-6 weeks; or (2) email our team at [email protected] and we can send you an invoice through our accounting system without the sales tax.
Oh no! My boss is out of the office, so I'll miss the registration deadline.
Please email our team ASAP at [email protected].
Can we hire you for a private Simple Spreadsheets workshop?
Yes, I'd love to provide a workshop just for your team, either virtually or in-person! Please note: My schedule fills 6-12 months in advance, and group rates for online courses will always be more cost-effective than private workshops.