In this article we will show you how to extract First, Middle & Last Name from a given text string using multiple methods in Microsoft Excel.
Many a times you face a situation where in you are given a name list containing full names and you need to separate them on the basis of first, middle and last name and then return the result into different cells. This is a very common problem for any excel user, and you too must have come across it.
This is a very common distress for a lot of Excel users but there is no specific in-built function in Excel that can extract first name, middle initial and last name from a cell that contains a complete name.
But, there are multiple methods in Excel that can help you in doing the same. And, that’s what this article lesson is about.
Today, we will show you two different methods that can be used for splitting names into different cells.
The most common way in which Excel stores name is by taking the first name first, space then middle initial (if any) followed by space and then the last name. Sometimes, instead of spaces, comma is used for separations.
Moving on to the first example, as you can see there are a few names in “column A” that we want to extract and return in column B, C and, D as first name, middle initial and last name respectively.
Note: Random sample names are used in this tutorial, just to explain how to extract values and return them in different columns.
Here, we will use the “Text to Column” feature which is used to separate simple cell content as first name and last name into separate columns. This feature is located under “Data” tab in “Data Tools” category. And, you can also use the keyboard shortcut “ALT + D + E” (Learn more Keyboard Shortcuts) to access the “Text to Column” wizard.
Select the range from A9 to A17 and then press “ALT + D + E”.
And, now we need to follow 3 easy steps, and as you can see on top of the wizard box, we are at the first step.
In the first step, we need to tell Excel that how our data is stored and formatted in the Excel file.
Now, we are in 2nd step of this wizard, and as you can see below, here we need to set the delimiters which our data contains.
Here you can see few “Delimiters” checkboxes; so, either you can select these check boxes or can mention the delimiter in “Other” checkbox. If your data contain some other delimiters which are not listed here. You can select one or multiple delimiters if there are more than one delimiter in your data.
Moving on to the last step of the “Text to column” wizard.
Note that if you do not specify a new destination cell reference, the extracted columns will replace the original data.
Now you can see that the names in “column A” have been extracted in multiple columns. But, if you look closely you will notice that in the 11th row, “Steve Smith” does not have a middle initial and his last name is moved to the middle name column.
That’s because, “Text to column” is only used to separate simple content into different cells basis on their delimiters. And, as there is only a single space in his name, it got split only in next 2 cells. This is the only drawback this feature has.
Note: In the second example, we have taken “Mayor Tom C Bradley as the full name in cell H9, just to show users that when there are more than 1 initials in the middle name, the function will extract both of them.
Now, we move on to the 2nd example, where we will use multiple functions together to get what we are looking for. This is the advanced technique of extracting “First”, “Middle” and, “Last Name” into different columns. And, to do the same, we have taken similar data in column H and, we are going to have names separated in three parts as First, Middle & Last name in column I, J and, K respectively. B
This is the best solution to consider when you want to split names into “First”, “Middle” and, “Last” but do not want to repeat the previous method every time you do that. You can put the formulas in the cells and the moment reference cell will be updated, names will be extracted automatically in specific columns where you have entered the formulas.
To extract First Name
And as you can see, the function has extracted the first name from H9 and returned it in cell I9 with “Mayor”. As you know, LEFT function is used to extract leftmost character and SEARCH function returns the position of the specific character it finds first in the string. So, here SEARCH function found the space first at 6th position in the string and to exclude space, we supplied negative value which helped LEFT to pick up only 5 characters.
To extract Last Name
To extract the last name, we have nested REPT, and SUBSTITUTE function inside RIGHT function. Then at last, we nested all conditions into TRIM to remove all unwanted spaces. Let’s see how all these statements worked together to return the last name.
REPT is nested inside SUBSTITUTE which repeated single space 255 times, and then SUBSTITUTE replaced single space with 255 spaces in the supplied string. And now each initial is separated by 255 spaces and then RIGHT function is used to extract topmost 255 characters and then TRIM is used to remove all extra spaces and then return with only last initial of the name.
To extract Middle Name
Update: In case you have to separate middle name which is same as the first or last name, use the following formula in column J instead of the formula mentioned above.
Extracting middle initial looks quite difficult as we need to make sure that the function evaluates all conditions and extract only middle name from it. For that, we have nested LEN, SUBSTITUTE, TRIM functions inside IF
In the first argument of IF function, logical test is checking that the length of the string without space when subtracting from the total length of the string is greater than 1 or not. When the result is TRUE, function execute the TRUE condition where SUBSTITUTE is nested inside SUBSTITUTE. Nested SUBSTITUTE is replacing the value of column I with empty text in column H and then the main SUBSTITUTE is replacing column K’s value with empty text and then to remove not required spaces, TRIM is used. And, in case IF condition does not meet the logical test, then the function would return empty text.
This is how you can use customize functions & simple methods to extract “First Name”, “Middle Initial” & “Last Name” from cell that contains a full name.
Check out this interesting video tutorial where we talk in detail about all the functions and techniques used to extract names into different cells.
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