Power BI Quick Tip: the Formula Bar in Power Query

the formula bar in Power Query Editor

Often you do the transformation in Power Query using the graphical interface, but having the formula bar visible, makes it much easier to understand or change the transformations. In this short blog and video, I’ll explain that.

Power Query transformations

In Power BI, we use Power Query a lot for transformations, but mostly using the graphical interfact;

the graphical user interface for Power Query

To view, or change the transformations, you can always use the Applied Steps. some steps have the great icon beside them, which makes it easier to apply a change.

Applied steps in Power Query editor

However, some steps, don’t have the gear icon, and that makes it hard to understand them, or even change the task done there. For example, in the above screenshot, it is not easy to find out what columns has been removed (unless you go to the previous steps and compare what columns are missing in this step manually), let aside to change the configuration.

Power Query Formula Bar

Power Query formula bar is a very useful place to understand the action applied in each step, and also change it if it is needed.

To make the formula bar visible, go to the View tab, and check the Formula Bar;

making the formula bar of the Power Query editor visible

When the formula bar is visible, each task’s action is visible there. You don’t have to be an M deep-dive developer to understand that. You might need some help in some areas if you are modifying things, but even the formula bar itself there would help you to understand the transformation better.


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Reza Rad
Trainer, Consultant, Mentor
Reza Rad is a Microsoft Regional Director, an Author, Trainer, Speaker and Consultant. He has a BSc in Computer engineering; he has more than 20 years’ experience in data analysis, BI, databases, programming, and development mostly on Microsoft technologies. He is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP for nine continuous years (from 2011 till now) for his dedication in Microsoft BI. Reza is an active blogger and co-founder of RADACAD. Reza is also co-founder and co-organizer of Difinity conference in New Zealand.
His articles on different aspects of technologies, especially on MS BI, can be found on his blog: https://radacad.com/blog.
He wrote some books on MS SQL BI and also is writing some others, He was also an active member on online technical forums such as MSDN and Experts-Exchange, and was a moderator of MSDN SQL Server forums, and is an MCP, MCSE, and MCITP of BI. He is the leader of the New Zealand Business Intelligence users group. He is also the author of very popular book Power BI from Rookie to Rock Star, which is free with more than 1700 pages of content and the Power BI Pro Architecture published by Apress.
He is an International Speaker in Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft Business Applications Summit, Data Insight Summit, PASS Summit, SQL Saturday and SQL user groups. And He is a Microsoft Certified Trainer.
Reza’s passion is to help you find the best data solution, he is Data enthusiast.

2 thoughts on “Power BI Quick Tip: the Formula Bar in Power Query

  • Hello. In the newest PBI desktop version (2.92.943.0), in Report view I can’t see the formula bar and there is no chance in View to make it visible (Gridlines, Snap to grid and Lock objects are the only ones with tickbox before them). Thanks for checking it out. Br, Márton

    • The Formula Bar of Power Query is only available in the Power Query Editor window. the menu items you are talking about are Power BI Desktop options.
      Click on the Transform Data in the Home tab. this will open a new window named Power Query Editor. In that window, you will have the view tab and you can enable the Formula Bar

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