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Separating Names into Individual Columns

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Separating Names into Individual Columns.

Lance has a set of names in a workbook. The names are all in column A, and some have first and last name, while others use first, middle, and last names. He needs to separate the names into individual columns, but the Text to Columns wizard doesn't provide satisfactory results. It does the separation OK, but the two-vs.-three names issue means that Lance need to do a lot of manual massaging of the data once it is split up.

The solution to the problem is to not rely on the Text to Columns wizard, but instead use a number of formulas to get the names into columns. The results you achieve still depend, in large part, on the condition of the data you are parsing. If your data is in the format "first middle last" (with the middle name being optional), then you can use the following formula to pull out the first name:

=LEFT(A1,SEARCH(" ",A1,1)-1)

This formula checks for the first space in the name, and then assumes that everything before that space is the first name. The next formula is used to determine if there is a middle name, and if there is, display it:

=IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(" ", RIGHT(A1, LEN(A1) - _
SEARCH(" ", A1, 1)), 1)) = TRUE, "", _
LEFT(RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1) - SEARCH(" ", A1, 1)), _
SEARCH(" ", RIGHT(A1, LEN(A1) - SEARCH(" ", _
A1, 1)), 1) - 1))

The formula checks for the existence of a second space in the name. If an error is generated (there is no second space) then the formula returns nothing; there is no middle name. If a second space is detected (there is no error generated), then the formula returns everything from after the first space up through the second space.

=RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-LEN(B1)-LEN(C1)-IF(C1="",1,2))

This formula relies on the results that were returned for both the first and middle names. It returns everything left in the original name after accounting for the length of the first name (assumed in cell B1) and the middle name (assumed in C1).

Again, these formulas work if the original data is in the "first last" or "first middle last" format. If there are qualifiers in the name such as Ms., Dr., Jr., or III, then you won't get satisfactory results. In addition, if the last name contains a space (as in "John van Kamp" or "Mary Anne St. Marie"), then you also won't get satisfactory results.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2789) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Separating Names into Individual Columns.

Related Tips:

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

 

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Comments for this tip:

Mark Greene    31 Jan 2013, 17:59
Folks, I'm as far the opposite of a power user as there is or ever will be -just a lowly marketing guy trying to get a crm database loaded so I can get to work. Am confronted with a .csv file exactly as decribed in this example - some first/last, some first/MI/last, some first/MN/last, some first/last/suffix. I did the first step (entered into B1) and it worked like a charm. Where do I go from there. Tried pasting the next formula into C1, but nada.

Yes, if you rectify this for me I will buy you a steak and/or margarita next time you're in Fort Worth.

Thanks!
Michael Avidan - MVP    22 Dec 2012, 10:46
If we assume that the Name string will not exceed 255 characters - then the formula will look like this:

=TRIM(MID(SUBSTITUTE($A6," ",REPT(" ",255)),255*(COLUMN()-2),255))

and copied across.

Michael Avidan
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel
ISRAEL
Michael Avidan - MVP    22 Dec 2012, 07:15
There is no need for such a "MEGA" formula.

It can be shorten by, at least, 50% as shown here:

http://ipic.se/img/1356177941.png

In addition - a very simple Split Text UDF can be used as proposed by John Walkenbach:

http://spreadsheetpage.com/index.php/tip/the_versatile_split_function/

Michael Avidan
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel
ISRAEL
 
 

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