Get first name from name

Learn how the get the first name from a name using regular (LEFT, FIND) and user-defined (TextLeft, ExtractWord) functions. This is a common occurrence when you have to clean data in Excel. We’ll explain three effective ways to solve this problem.

Generic Formula to Extract the first name from a name

=LEFT(full_name,FIND(" ",full_name)-1)

Example: Use the FIND and LEFT functions

In this case, strings are separated with space. Our goal is to find the first space and extract the first name from left.

Apply the combination of the FIND and LEFT functions to extract the first name (without additional spaces or other delimiters) from a full name.

In our example, the cell B2 contains the following formula:

=LEFT(A2,FIND(" ",A2)-1)
Generic Formula to Extract the first name from a name

Explanation on how this formula works

As first, the FIND function locates the first space character(“ “) in cell A2. After that, it returns the actual position of the first space in the given cell or string.

The result is 1. The LEFT function uses this result as a parameter. In the example, the position of the first separator (space) is 5.

=FIND(" ",A2,1) = 5

The FIND function gets the first 5 characters from the left.

=LEFT(A2,FIND(" ",A2)-1)

The LEFT function helps us to get the first name because it will get the first string from left until the first space. We have to cut the space character (apply “-1” in the formula), so the result is “John”.

TextLeft and ExtractNthWord functions

Our free excel add-in DataFx contains all the explained functions.

Get the first name using UDFs

The TextLeft function provides a quick result and it has an easy syntax. The function returns the first word from the source range using the specified delimiter, in the example, space.

We only have to add the cell reference and space as the second parameter.

Get the first name using TextLeft user defined function
=TextLeft(A4," ")

Apply the ExtractNthWord function

This UDF will return with the first word from a string.

As a result of

=Extract_Nth_Word(A2,1)

we’ll get the same result, “John”

Apply the Extract Nth Word function

Handling unusual prefixes

If you have strings with custom prefixes (Dr. Mr., etc) we have to remove them first.

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