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Quick tour of the Power Query M formula language

Owen Duncan|Last Updated: 10/5/2018
1 Contributor

This quick tour applies to creating Power Query M formula language queries in Power BI Desktop, Power Query in Excel, and Get Data in Excel 2016.


M is a case-sensitive language.

Create a query with Query Editor

To create an advanced query, you use the Query Editor. A mashup query is composed of variables, expressions, and values encapsulated by a let expression. A variable can contain spaces by using the # identifier with the name in quotes as in #"Variable name".

A let expression follows this structure:

   Variablename = expression,  
   #"Variable name" = expression2  

To create an M query in the Query Editor, you follow this basic process:

  • Create a series of query formula steps that start with the let statement. Each step is defined by a step variable name. An M variable can included spaces by using the # character as #"Step Name". A formula step can be a custom formula. Please note that the Power Query Formula Language is case sensitive.

  • Each query formula step builds upon a previous step by referring to a step by its variable name.

  • Output a query formula step using the in statement. Generally, the last query step is used as the in final data set result.

To learn more about expressions and values, see Expressions, values, and let expression.

Simple Power Query M formula steps

Let's assume you created the following transform in the Query Editor to convert product names to proper case.

Intro to M Step 1

You have a table that looks like this:

11fishing rod100
211 lb. worms5
32fishing net25

And, you want to capitalize each word in the Item column to produce the following table:

11Fishing Rod100
211 Lb. Worms5
32Fishing Net25

The M formula steps to project the original table into the results table looks like this:

Advanced Editor

Here's the code you can paste into Query Editor:

let Orders = Table.FromRecords({  
    [OrderID = 1, CustomerID = 1, Item = "fishing rod", Price = 100.0],  
    [OrderID = 2, CustomerID = 1, Item = "1 lb. worms", Price = 5.0],  
    [OrderID = 3, CustomerID = 2, Item = "fishing net", Price = 25.0]}),  
    #"Capitalized Each Word" = Table.TransformColumns(Orders, {"Item", Text.Proper})  
    #"Capitalized Each Word"  

Let’s review each formula step.

  1. Orders – Create a [Table](#_Table_value) with data for Orders.

  2. #"Capitalized Each Word" – To capitalize each word, you use Table.TransformColumns().

  3. in #"Capitalized Each Word" – Output the table with each word capitalized.

See Also

Expressions, values, and let expression
Type conversion

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