How do you use M language in Power Query?

M language in Power Query: Power Query, a powerful data transformation tool embedded in Microsoft Excel and other Microsoft Power BI applications, relies on the M language to perform intricate data manipulations. Understanding M language is crucial for users seeking to unleash the full potential of Power Query. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of M language, providing a step-by-step tutorial, insights, and valuable external resources to empower you in optimizing your data transformation workflows.

Unveiling the Power of M Language in Power Query:

What is M Language?

M Language, also known as Power Query Formula Language, is a functional language developed by Microsoft for transforming and manipulating data in Power Query. It excels in handling diverse data sources, cleaning and shaping data, and preparing it for analysis or visualization.

Key Features of M Language:

  1. Functional Paradigm: M language follows a functional programming paradigm, emphasizing the use of functions and expressions to transform data.
  2. Custom Functions: Users can create custom functions in M language, enhancing code reusability and modularity in data transformations.
  3. Data Types and Structures: M language supports various data types and structures, including lists, records, and tables, providing versatility in handling different types of data.
  4. Expression Evaluation: M language employs a step-by-step approach to evaluate expressions, facilitating understanding and debugging of data transformations.

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Harnessing M Language in Power Query: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Launch Power Query Editor

  1. Open Microsoft Excel or Power BI.
  2. Load your data into Power Query.
  3. Launch Power Query Editor.

Step 2: Access Advanced Editor

  1. Navigate to the Home tab in Power Query Editor.
  2. Click on “Advanced Editor” to open the M language editor.

Step 3: Grasping M Language Syntax

  1. Familiarize yourself with the basic syntax of M language, including functions, parameters, and expressions.
  2. Explore data types such as text, numbers, lists, and tables.

Step 4: Creating Custom Functions

  1. Utilize the “let” statement to define custom functions.
  2. Develop reusable functions for common data transformations.

Step 5: Data Transformation Examples

  1. Execute basic data transformations using M language, such as filtering, sorting, and grouping.
  2. Explore advanced transformations, including pivoting and unpivoting data.

Step 6: Error Handling and Debugging

  1. Master error handling techniques in M language.
  2. Utilize the “try… otherwise” construct for effective error management.

External Resources for Further Learning:

  1. Power Query M Language Reference: Explore the official documentation for M language to gain in-depth knowledge about functions, syntax, and examples.
  2. Power Query Community: Engage with the Power Query community on the official forums to ask questions, share insights, and learn from other users’ experiences.

What is the difference between Power BI desktop and Power Query editor?


1. Can M language be used in both Excel and Power BI?

Yes, M language is the common language used in Power Query, making it applicable in both Microsoft Excel and Power BI.

2. Is M language similar to other programming languages?

While M language shares some similarities with other programming languages, its focus on functional programming and data transformations makes it unique.

3. Can I use M language to connect to external data sources?

Yes, M language in Power Query can be used to connect to a wide range of external data sources and perform data transformations during the import process.

4. Are there any limitations to M language in Power Query?

While M language is powerful, users should be aware of potential limitations, such as the complexity of certain transformations and the need for a good understanding of data structures.

5. How can I share M language queries with other users?

M language queries can be shared by exporting them as Power Query templates (.pq files) or by copying and pasting the M code into other instances of Power Query.

6. Can M language be used for data cleansing and quality checks?

Absolutely. M language provides robust capabilities for cleaning and transforming data, including removing duplicates, handling missing values, and performing various quality checks.


By following this comprehensive guide, you are well on your way to becoming proficient in M language and maximizing the capabilities of Power Query for data transformation. Combine the step-by-step instructions, external resources, and FAQs to deepen your understanding and uncover the full potential of M language in Power Query. Whether you’re a data analyst, business professional, or aspiring data scientist, mastering M language is a valuable skill that will empower you to handle diverse datasets and streamline your data workflows.