Often we face a situation where we need to get first and last word from a cell/text string in Excel.
...you want to extract the first name from...
1. Extract First Word
Extracting the first word from a text string is much easier than extracting the last word.
For this, we can create a formula by combining two different text functions, that’s SEARCH and LEFT.
Let’s understand this with an example.
In the below table, we have a list of names which includes the first and the last name. And now from this, we need to extract the first name which the first word in the cell.
And the formula to get the first name from above column is:
This simply returns the first name which is the first word from the text.
How it works
In the above example, we have used a combination of SEARCH (It can search for a text string in another text string) and LEFT (It can extract a text from the left side).
This formula works in two different parts.
In the first part, SEARCH function finds the position of the space in the text and returns a number from which you have deducted one to get the position of the last character of the first word.
In the second part, using the number returned by SEARCH function, LEFT function extracts the first word from the cell.
2. Extract last Word
Getting the last word from a text string can be tricky for you, but once you understand the entire formula it will much easier to use it in future.
So, to extract the last word from a cell you need to combine RIGHT, SUBSTITUTE and REPT.
And the formula will be:
This formula returns the last name from the cell which is the last word and works same even if you have more than two words in a cell.
How it works
Again, you need to break down this formula to understand how does it work.
In the FIRST part, SUBSTITUTE function replaces every single space with the spaces equals to the length of the text.
The text becomes double in length with extra spaces and looks something like this.
After that, the RIGHT function will extracts characters from the right side equals to the original length of the text.
By using above formulas you can easily get the first and the last word from a text string.
The formula for the first word is super easy and for the last word is bit tricky but you need to understand it once in starting.
I hope you found this tip helpful.
Now tell me one thing.
Do you have any other method to get first and last from a string?
Please share your views with me in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you. And, please don’t forget to share this tip with your friends.
About the Author
Puneet is using Excel since his college days. He helped thousands of people to understand the power of the spreadsheets and learn Microsoft Excel. You can ﬁnd him online, tweeting about Excel, on a running track, or sometimes hiking up a mountain.