Soar Beyond the Dusty Shelf Report

Most “professional” reports are too long, dense, and jargony. Transform your reports with these practical tips. You’ll never look at reports the same way again.

Course Description

Nothing bothers me more than watching important information decay inside of Dusty Shelf Reports. Most “professional” reports are long, dense, unused, and forgotten about.
I used to write hundred-page reports for everyday people that had that were filled with statistical jargon that only a college professor could understand. I was trained to write formal academic reports in college and graduate school. But I wasn’t sure how to transition my reporting skills in the real world. I needed to transform technical information for non-technical audiences.

Now, I design briefs, summaries, slideshows, dashboards, and infographics instead of Dusty Shelf Reports. My audience can read and understand the information, which means my data actually gets used.

In this 10-part jumpstart, you’ll see before/after makeovers from real projects. Whether you’re revamping an entire report or starting small with a single graph, there’s only one way to eat that elephant–one bite at a time! I selected my favorite seven tips. These are the strategies I wish I knew sooner. You’ll learn about data visualization, dashboards, and designing rockstar reports inside of software programs that you already have.

I selected a a variety of topic areas for this free email course: public health, accounting, zoos (!), human services, satisfaction surveys, and juvenile justice. You can apply these techniques to any topic area that you’re working in.

You’ll be on your way from Dusty Shelf stress to superstardom in no time. And you’ll never look at reports the same way again.
Soar Beyond the Dusty Shelf Report is the why-to course. Simple Spreadsheets, Great Graphs, and Dashboard Design are the how-to courses. I hope you gain new ideas here and then join me for a fuller course to dive in deeper.

About the Instructor

Ann Emery
Your data deserves to be out in the world–actionable, talked about, used–not gathering dust in spreadsheets. Let me transform your technical information for non-technical audiences. I’ve consulted to clients like the United Nations, State Department, and Centers for Disease Control, plus dozens more foundations, nonprofits, film companies, banks, hospitals, and universities worldwide. Each year, I lead dozens of in-person workshops for thousands of people. My online courses bring those skills to you, too.

Class Curriculum


Welcome & Introduce Yourself to the Group

Lesson 1

Sometimes Your Reports, Not Your Readers, Are the Problem

Lesson 2

Data Visualization is Just a Series of Small Edits

Lesson 3

Icons! How to Use Them, Where to Find Them

Lesson 4

Dark Colors and Crystal Clear Text: Your Most Powerful Data Storytelling Techniques

Lesson 5

The Best Data Visualization Tool of All Time

Lesson 6

The Most Important Planning Question: Are Viewers Expecting a Story?

Lesson 7

From Boring Bullet Points into Crystal Clear Visuals

What People Are Saying

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Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?

The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course – you decide when you start and when you finish.

How long do I have access to the course?

How does yearlong access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for an entire year – across any and all devices you own.

I want to learn even more! Where can I find more techniques like this?

If you like this short course, then you’ll love my full courses. Simple Spreadsheets launches you from spreadsheet stress to superstardom with my best-bang-for-your-buck data analysis techniques. Great Graphs is a deep dive into data visualization best practices and practical how-tos in popular software like Excel, Tableau, and R. Dashboard Design trains you to design sophisticated one-pagers and to automate a series of matching dashboards. Join me for a full course!
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