How to Separate Names in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Separating names in Excel can seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. Whether you’re working with a list of full names and need to split them into first and last names or you’re trying to organize data for a project, Excel has built-in tools to help you accomplish this with ease. In just a few steps, you can transform your data and make it work for you.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Separate Names in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve. We want to take a column of full names and split it into two separate columns: one for first names and one for last names. This is helpful for sorting, filtering, or analyzing your data more effectively.

Step 1: Select the column with the names

First things first, click on the column that contains the names you want to separate. Make sure you select the entire column by clicking on the letter at the top.

Choosing the right column is crucial. If you have multiple columns with different types of data, be sure to select only the one with the names you need to split. This will ensure the other data remains unchanged.

Step 2: Go to the Data tab and click on ‘Text to Columns’

Once you’ve selected the column, navigate to the Data tab on the Excel ribbon, and look for the ‘Text to Columns’ button. Click on it to open the wizard that will guide you through the process.

The ‘Text to Columns’ feature is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to split text based on a delimiter, which is a fancy word for a character that separates your data, like a space or a comma.

Step 3: Choose ‘Delimited’ and click ‘Next’

In the wizard, you’ll be asked whether your data is ‘Delimited’ or ‘Fixed width’. Choose ‘Delimited’ since we’re separating names based on a space between them. Then, click ‘Next’.

‘Delimited’ means that your data is separated by a specific character, such as a space, comma, or tab. In our case, it’s the space between first names and last names.

Step 4: Check the box for ‘Space’ and click ‘Next’

Now, you’ll see various options for delimiters. Check the box for ‘Space’ since that’s what separates the names in our column. If there are extra spaces, make sure to check the ‘Treat consecutive delimiters as one’ option. Then, click ‘Next’.

Make sure you only check the delimiter that applies to your data. If you check the wrong box, you could end up splitting your data incorrectly.

Step 5: Choose the destination for the separated names and click ‘Finish’

Finally, select where you want the new columns of separated names to appear. You can choose to overwrite the existing data or place the separated names in a different column. Once you’ve made your selection, click ‘Finish’.

Choosing a destination is important. If you don’t want to lose the original full names, make sure to select a different location for the split data.

After completing these steps, you’ll have two new columns: one with first names and one with last names. Your data is now more accessible and easier to work with for whatever task you have at hand.

Tips for Separating Names in Excel

  • Make sure your data is consistent before splitting. Inconsistent spacing or use of commas can lead to errors.
  • If names have middle initials or multiple last names, consider using additional delimiters.
  • Use the ‘Treat consecutive delimiters as one’ option if there are extra spaces in your data.
  • Check the preview window in the ‘Text to Columns’ wizard to ensure your data will split correctly.
  • Remember to save your workbook after splitting names, so you don’t lose your changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have middle names or initials included?

If your names include middle names or initials, you’ll need to add an extra step. After splitting the first and last names, you can repeat the process to separate the middle names or initials into another column.

Can I split names with multiple last names?

Yes, you can split names with multiple last names by using additional delimiters. For example, if the last names are separated by a hyphen, you’d check the ‘Hyphen’ box in the delimiters section.

What should I do if my data has commas instead of spaces?

If your data uses commas to separate names, simply choose ‘Comma’ as your delimiter instead of ‘Space’ in Step 4.

How can I recombine names after separating them?

To recombine names, you can use the CONCATENATE function or the ‘&’ operator. For example, =A1 & ” ” & B1 will combine the first name in A1 with the last name in B1, adding a space in between.

Can I separate names into more than two columns?

Absolutely! You can separate names into as many columns as you need by repeating the ‘Text to Columns’ process and choosing different delimiters for each step.


  1. Select the column with the names.
  2. Go to the Data tab and click ‘Text to Columns’.
  3. Choose ‘Delimited’ and click ‘Next’.
  4. Check ‘Space’ as the delimiter and click ‘Next’.
  5. Choose the destination and click ‘Finish’.


Excel is a versatile tool that can make managing and organizing data a breeze, and knowing how to separate names in Excel is a handy skill that can save you time and hassle. Whether you’re a seasoned Excel user or just getting started, these straightforward steps will help you split names with ease. Remember, the key to success with Excel is experimentation and practice, so don’t be afraid to try different approaches and find what works best for you. Keep exploring, keep learning, and before you know it, you’ll be an Excel pro!

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