Power Query Combine Columns

  1. Power Query Combine Two Columns
  2. Power Query Combine Text Columns

This past weekend I attended SQL Saturday in Portland, OR. While I was there, I attended Reza Rad’s session on Advanced Data Transformations with Power Query. During that session, Reza showed a cool trick to merge data based on two columns through the user interface… without concatenating the columns first.

Power Query Combine Columns

Assume for a second that we have data that looks like this:

  • Merge queries (Power Query) Excel for Microsoft 365 Excel 2019 Excel 2016 Excel 2013 Excel 2010 When you merge, you typically join two queries that are either within Excel or from an external data source. In addition, the Merge feature has an intuitive user interface to.
  • Power query is a data shaping tool where we can bring the data through a connection from various sources, do some shaping such as removing rows, columns, changing data types, trimming the data etc. And get it ready, finally for the analysis in our main software such as microsoft excel or microsoft power bi. For the introduction of power query.
  • NumberColumn gives a list of the values in the NumberColumn column in this new table. The List.Transform part turns the numbers into text values, and Text.Combine joins those numbers together, with a comma separating each value. If you need the surrounding quotes as well, you can do this.

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There’s two tables, and we want to join the account name to the transaction. The problem is that the unique key to join these two tables (which isn’t super obvious here) is a combination of the Acct and Dept fields. (Elsewhere in the data the same account exists in multiple departments.

To get started, I created two connection only queries, one to each table.

  • Select a cell in the left table (Transactions) –> create a new query –> From Table –> Close & Load To… Connection only
  • Select a cell in the right table (COA) –> create a new query –> From Table –> Close & Load To… Connection only

My Original Approach

Now, with both of those created, I want to merge the data so I get the account name on each row of the Transactions table. So how…?

Originally I would have edited each query, selected the Acct and Dept columns, and merged the two columns together, probably separating them with a custom delimiter. (This can be done via the Merge command on the Transform or the Add Column tab.)

Power Query Combine Two Columns

Essentially, by concatenating the columns, I end up with a single column that I can use to dictate the matches.

Reza’s presentation showed that this isn’t actually necessary, and I don’t need to merge those columns at all…

So here’s how we can get those records from the COA Table into the Transactions table:

  • Right click the Transactions query in the Workbook Queries pane
  • Choose Merge
  • Select the COA query

The data now looks like this, asking for us to select the column(s) we wish to use for the merge:

So here’s the secret:

  • Under Transactions, click the Acct column
  • Hold down the CTRL key
  • Click the Dept column

Power Query Combine Text Columns

And Power Query indicates the order of the columns you selected. It will essentially use this as a temporary concatenated value!

Excel power query combine columns

So now do the same to the COA table:

And then complete the merge. As you can see, you get a new column of data in your query:

Excel power query combine columns

of course, we can expand NewColumn to get just the Name field, and everything is working perfectly!

This is pretty cool, although not super discoverable. The really nice piece here is that it can save you the work of creating extra columns if you only need them to merge your data.

I should also mention that Reza showed this trick in Power BI Desktop, not Excel. But because it’s Power Query dealing with the data in both, it works in both. How cool is that?