Power BI Q&A: Optimize a Power BI workbook (cloud modeling)

Note   This article applies to the previous Power BI experience (commonly called Power BI for Office 365), and not to the new Power BI experience. Try the new Power BI. Read more about migrating from Power BI for Office 365 to the new Power BI.

In Power BI Q&A Language Modeling – Optimize: Synonyms and in Enhancing and tuning Excel Power Pivot workbooks for Power BI Q&A you learned how to work in Excel to enhance the Power Pivot data model. In this article you’ll learn how to optimize your data model online in Power BI for Office 365. This is sometimes referred to as cloud modeling.

The cloud modeling capabilities are much more robust than those offered in Excel. You can:

  • Add synonyms

  • Add phrasings

  • Monitor usage

  • Review and fix flagged questions

  • Review and address ambiguous terms used in Q&A searches

  • Perform testing before committing changes to a workbook

  • And more...

    Cloud modeling begins by opening Optimize view in Q&A.

Who can use Optimize View

The person who uploads a workbook to a Power BI site automatically has permissions to optimize that workbook. In addition, Optimize permissions can be granted by the SharePoint administrator.

You want to ensure that your teammates get the absolutely best results from your workbook. And there are many ways you can do this – some are proactive, to get the workbook ready for Q&A, and some are reactive, monitoring usage and responding to feedback. All of this can be done with tools available in Optimize view.

Open Q&A Optimize View

Take that workbook that you’ve uploaded to an Office 365 Power BI site and optimize it (or continue to optimize it) for your users. Changes you make here are saved back to the uploaded workbook and its data model. The cloud modeling capabilities are substantially more robust than the modeling available in Excel.

  1. From a Power BI for Office 365 site, open the Power BI app.

  2. Select the gear icon in the top right corner > Power BI Site Settings > Q&A.

    Gear icon
  3. Locate the workbook you’d like to optimize for Q&A and click the ellipses > Optimize for Q&A.

    Optimize for Q&A

    Power BI opens the Optimize view of Q&A, as shown here:

    Optimize view

Tools available in Optimize view

Once in Optimize view, you’ll see several tabs: Overview, Synonyms, Phrasings, Usage. Select a link below to learn more about each.


Shows a summary of the synonyms and phrasings that already exist in the workbook’s data model. Some are auto-generated by Q&A , and others are created manually.

For more information, see Power BI Q&A Language Modeling - Optimize: Overview tool


Lists the tables and fields in the workbook (and corresponding data model) along with auto-generated and manually-created synonyms. If you’ve everadded synonyms to a Power Pivot Excel data model, this will look very familiar. You can do a lot of up-front work here before adding the workbook to Q&A, and you can also return here to add new synonyms in response to user feedback and usage reports.

For more information, see Power BI Q&A Language Modeling – Optimize: Synonyms


Add phrasings to reduce ambiguity in your workbook and give better Q&A results. Some phrasings are auto-generated by Q&A , and others are created manually. As with Synonyms, you can do a lot of up-front language modeling here, and also return to address issues that come up in the Usage pane.

Phrasings is a very powerful tool and can be complicated. Before diving in, we recommend reading the following:


You can monitor workbook activity and feedback and use that information to update and improve the data model.

A User Report shows the number of questions asked by end-user. Click on the number and see the actual questions asked, and click on a question to see the results displayed on the left.

A Flagged Questions report lists questions flagged by end-users as unhelpful. Click on a question to see the results displayed on the left. Fix the model so that the flagged questions return good results.

An Unrecognized Words report displays a list of words Q&A didn’t recognize.

For more information about the Usage tool, see Power BI Q&A Language Modeling – Optimize: Usage tool

Additional Resources

After you’ve opened Q&A in Optimize view:

  • Overview tab – review phrasings and synonyms already added to the data model

  • Synonyms tab – review existing synonyms and add new ones

  • Phrasings tab – review existing phrasings and add new ones

  • Usage tab – monitor workbook usage and feedback

Having trouble optimizing a workbook in Power BI for Office 365?:

How does language modeling in Power BI for Office 365 fit into the Q&A big picture:

Videos – coming soon!

Applies To: Excel 2013, Power BI

Was this information helpful?

Yes No

How can we improve it?

255 characters remaining

To protect your privacy, please do not include contact information in your feedback. Review our privacy policy.

Thank you for your feedback!

Change language