How to Switch First and Last Name in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Switching first and last names in Excel can be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with the program’s functions. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it seems! Essentially, you’ll be using a combination of Excel’s built-in functions to split the names, then flip them around, and finally put them back together. With a few simple steps, you’ll have those names switched in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial: Switching First and Last Name in Excel

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve here. We want to take a list of names that are in the format “First Last” and switch them to “Last, First”. This is particularly useful for organizing data in a way that’s more readable or conforms to certain standards.

Step 1: Select the cells containing the names

Select the cells in Excel that contain the names you wish to switch.

When selecting cells, make sure to only select the ones with the names you want to switch. If you select too many cells, you might end up with unnecessary blank columns.

Step 2: Use the “Text to Columns” feature

With the cells selected, go to the Data tab and click on “Text to Columns”.

“Text to Columns” is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to split the contents of a cell based on a specific delimiter, such as space, comma, or any other character you specify.

Step 3: Choose “Delimited” and click “Next”

In the “Text to Columns” wizard, choose the “Delimited” option and then click “Next”.

“Delimited” means that the content of the cell will be split at each occurrence of the delimiter you choose, which in this case will be the space between the first and last name.

Step 4: Set the delimiter as “Space”

Check the box for “Space” as the delimiter and uncheck any other options, then click “Next”.

Be careful to choose the correct delimiter. If you choose the wrong one, the names won’t split correctly. If the names have middle initials, you might need to take additional steps to handle those.

Step 5: Finish the “Text to Columns” wizard

Click “Finish” to execute the split.

After you click “Finish”, Excel will split the first and last names into separate columns.

Once you’ve completed the steps above, your first and last names will be in separate columns. From there, you can simply rearrange the columns as needed to have the last name appear first, followed by a comma and then the first name. You may also need to use the concatenate function to join the last name and first name back into a single cell if required.

Tips for Switching First and Last Name in Excel

  • Always backup your data before making any changes in Excel. You don’t want to lose your original data if something goes wrong.
  • If you have middle names or initials included, you may need to adjust your steps to accommodate these extra pieces of information.
  • Use the “CONCATENATE” or “&” operator to join the last and first names back together if needed.
  • Consider using “Trim” function to remove any extra spaces that may appear after using “Text to Columns”.
  • Practice on a sample data set before applying the changes to your actual data to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my names have middle initials or second last names?

If the names you’re working with have middle initials or second last names, you will need to adjust your delimiter settings in the “Text to Columns” wizard to account for these.

Can I undo the changes after switching the names?

Yes, you can undo the changes by pressing Ctrl + Z or by using the “Undo” button in Excel. However, it’s always a good practice to backup your data before making any changes.

Is there a way to automate this process if I have a large list of names?

For a large list of names, you can create a formula using Excel functions like LEFT, RIGHT, MID, FIND, and LEN to automate the process. Alternatively, you can use macros to automate repetitive tasks.

Can I switch names back to the original format after rearranging them?

Yes, you can switch the names back to the original format by reversing the steps you took to rearrange them.

What if I accidentally merge the names into one cell?

If you accidentally merge the names into one cell, you can use the “Text to Columns” feature again to separate them, or use Excel’s built-in functions to split them.


  1. Select the cells with the names.
  2. Use “Text to Columns”.
  3. Choose “Delimited”.
  4. Set delimiter as “Space”.
  5. Finish the wizard.


Switching first and last names in Excel might seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Just remember, the key is to split the names using the “Text to Columns” feature, rearrange them, and then put them back together if needed. And don’t forget those tips—they can be real lifesavers, especially if you’re dealing with a large dataset or names with extra components like middle initials.

With the steps outlined in this article, you won’t need to manually cut, paste, and retype names ever again. Excel’s powerful functions do all the heavy lifting for you, saving you time and reducing the risk of errors. Now that you know how to switch first and last names in Excel, you’re well-equipped to handle any list of names that comes your way. Happy data organizing!

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