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

Separating names in Excel might sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. All you need is a little bit of patience and a few clicks here and there. So, whether you’re dealing with a list of full names and you want to split them into first and last names, or you need to organize your data better, this quick guide will show you how to do it in a snap.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Separate Names in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s quickly talk about what we’re going to achieve here. We’ll take a column of full names and separate them into two different columns: one for the first names and another for the last names. Alright, let’s get to it!

Step 1: Select the Column with the Names

Click on the column that contains the full names that you want to separate.

Selecting the correct column is crucial because this is the data you’ll be working with. Make sure you don’t have any empty cells in the column, as this can cause issues during the separation process.

Step 2: Go to the ‘Data’ Tab and Click on ‘Text to Columns’

This feature is built into Excel and specifically designed to split text into different columns.

The ‘Text to Columns’ wizard is a powerful Excel feature that allows you to split text based on certain criteria. In this case, we’ll be using it to separate names based on the space between the first and last names.

Step 3: Choose the ‘Delimited’ Option and Click ‘Next’

The ‘Delimited’ option lets you split text based on characters such as commas, spaces, or tabs.

Choosing the right delimiter is important. Since most names are separated by a space, we’ll use the space as the delimiter. However, if your data is different (for example, names are separated by a comma), you’ll need to select the appropriate delimiter.

Step 4: Check the ‘Space’ Checkbox and Click ‘Next’

This tells Excel that you want to split the text at every space.

Keep in mind that if a name has a middle initial or a compound last name with a space, this step will cause the name to be split into more than two parts. You’ll need to manually adjust these after the separation if necessary.

Step 5: Choose the Destination for the New Columns and Click ‘Finish’

Select where you want the new first and last name columns to appear in your Excel sheet.

Choosing the destination is the final step. By default, Excel will overwrite the original column, so if you want to keep the full names as well, be sure to select a new destination for the split names.

After completing these steps, you’ll have successfully separated the full names into two new columns: one for first names and another for last names. This can help you organize your data better and make it easier to sort, filter, or analyze.

Tips for Separating Names in Excel

  • Always backup your original data before making any changes.
  • Double-check that you’ve selected the correct delimiter based on your data.
  • If you have names with middle initials or compound last names, be prepared to do some manual cleanup.
  • Use the ‘Undo’ feature (Ctrl + Z) if you make a mistake during the process.
  • Experiment with the ‘Text to Columns’ feature to get a better understanding of how it works.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if a name has a middle initial or a compound last name?

You may need to manually adjust the names that have been incorrectly split into more than two columns.

Can I separate names that are separated by a comma instead of a space?

Yes, simply choose the comma as the delimiter in Step 4.

Will the original column with the full names be deleted?

By default, yes. But you can prevent this by choosing a different destination for the new columns in Step 5.

What if I have empty cells in the column with the names?

Try to fill in or remove the empty cells before starting the separation process to avoid issues.

Can I split more than just names using this method?

Absolutely! You can use the ‘Text to Columns’ feature to split any text based on any delimiter.


  1. Select the column with the names.
  2. Go to the ‘Data’ tab and click on ‘Text to Columns’.
  3. Choose the ‘Delimited’ option and click ‘Next’.
  4. Check the ‘Space’ checkbox and click ‘Next’.
  5. Choose the destination for the new columns and click ‘Finish’.


Separating names in Excel is a handy skill that can save you time and headache when dealing with large lists or databases. By using the ‘Text to Columns’ wizard, you can quickly and efficiently split full names into individual columns for first and last names, making your data more manageable and easier to work with. Remember to always back up your data before making changes and take the time to familiarize yourself with the different features Excel offers. With a little practice, you’ll be separating names like a pro in no time!

Join Our Free Newsletter

Featured guides and deals

You may opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Policy