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How to Separate Names in Excel For Business

June 13, 2024

As a writer, I've learned the value of working smart, not just hard. Of course, hard work is important, but efficiency can propel you further along the road to success. So if you're ever faced with a task where you're given a list of names and asked to separate them into an Excel sheet. You could opt for the laborious route, manually separating each name, or you could work smart and follow the technique. I'll show you how to separate names in Excel for business to make your workload lighter and your results more efficient!

How to Separate Names in Excel For Business

Practical Applications of Separating Names in Excel for Business

As a copywriter, my job revolves around ensuring accuracy and efficiency in every task I undertake. It's not just about writing compelling content; it's also about finding smart solutions to streamline processes and automate mundane tasks and businesses often find these methods to be quite useful.

Example 1: Email Marketing and Customer Management

When you're tasked with conducting email marketing campaigns for a diverse customer base. Personalization is key, but you're faced with a long list of full names. By splitting these names into first and last names, you can tailor your email content to each customer, increasing engagement and fostering better relationships. Whether it's addressing them by their first name or crafting personalized subject lines, splitting names simplifies the process and enhances the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Example 2: Human Resources Management

In the human resources department, managing employee information is a top priority. When it comes to employee names, having them split into first and last names streamlines various HR processes. Whether it's conducting performance evaluations, generating reports, or simply searching for specific employees, having their names split ensures accurate and efficient management of personnel data.

Example 3: Database Management

Database management requires careful organization and readability of data. Imagine maintaining a vast database containing client or customer information. By splitting names into first and last names, you enhance the organization and searchability of the database. Whether it's sorting data alphabetically, generating reports, or conducting targeted searches, having names split simplifies the process and improves overall database management.

Database Management

Example 4: Mailing and Shipping Management

When it comes to mailing and shipping management, accuracy is paramount. Whether you're sending out marketing materials or fulfilling orders, having recipients' names split into first and last names ensures precise labeling and addressing. This not only minimizes errors in delivery but also enhances the professionalism and efficiency of your mailing and shipping processes.

How to Separate Names in Excel for Business [3 Methods]

When it comes to separating names in Excel, it's easy to assume there's only one method. However, you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are multiple approaches available, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your needs. In this demonstration, I'll be utilizing WPS Office to showcase these methods, primarily because of its user-friendly interface and convenience, making it an ideal choice for businesses looking to streamline their processes.

Method 1: Using Formula

The first method we will explore is using a formula to separate names from an Excel spreadsheet using WPS Spreadsheet. The functions used in this method are LEFT, RIGHT, FIND, and LEN. The LEFT function extracts characters from the left side of a cell, whereas the RIGHT function extracts from the right side of the cell.

Step 1: Let's create two separate columns where we will have the First names and the Last names.

Create new columns in WPS Spreadsheet

The LEFT function will be used to extract the first name from the full name column.

Step 2: To start, enter the LEFT function in the first cell in the First Name column.

LEFT Function

Step 3: For the first argument, select the cell with the full name. In our example, it’s cell B2.

LEFT Function’s Text Argument

The next argument is the number of characters to extract from the left side of the selected cell. Here we will use the FIND function nested within the LEFT function. This will help us find the space in the full name which separates the First and Last names.

Step 4: Insert the FIND function nested within the LEFT function.

Nested FIND Function in LEFT Function

Step 5: For the first argument of the FIND function, enter a space between inverted commas.

FIND Function’s Find_text argument

Step 6: For the next argument, select the cell with the full name and then press Enter.

FIND Function’s Within_text argument

Step 7: The first name will be extracted and displayed in the cell. To copy the function to the remaining cells, drag the “Fill Handle” downwards.

Separate First name in WPS Spreadsheet

For the last name, we will use the RIGHT function in a similar way, but this time we will have both the FIND and the LEN function nested within the RIGHT function.

Step 8: Go to an empty cell in the Last name column and enter the RIGHT function.

RIGHT Function

Step 9: For the first argument of the RIGHT function, select the same cell with the full name.

RIGHT Function’s Text Argument

The next argument of the RIGHT function will have both the FIND and LEN functions nested, with the FIND function being subtracted from the LEN function to get the length of the last name. Here is how:

Step 10: Insert the LEN function and then select the cell with the full name.

LEN Function

Step 11: Enter a subtraction sign followed by the FIND function.

FIND Function subtracted from LEN Function

Step 12: The first argument of the FIND function will be the same as before: a space between inverted commas.

Find_text Argument of the FIND Function

Step 13: The next argument of the FIND function will be the cell with the full name, and then press Enter.

Within_text argument of the FIND function

Step 14: The last name will be extracted. Now simply use the “Fill Handle” to complete the remaining cells.

Separate Last name in WPS Spreadsheet

Using a formula to extract first and last names from the data can be a little confusing considering the number of functions being used, adding complexity to the entire method. However, this method can be useful for larger data sets and when extracting first, middle, and last names. If you find this method too complex and time-consuming, I have guided two more methods below.

Method 2: Columns

WPS Spreadsheet provides businesses the ability to separate names in raw data using the Text to Column feature. Let's see how to divide names in Excel using WPS Spreadsheet's Text to Column tool.

Employees sample data set

Step 1: So, let's select the cells where we have the employees' full names in the WPS Spreadsheet.

Step 2: Next, go to the "Data" tab in the toolbar and click on the "Text to Column" button.

WPS Spreadsheet Data tab

Step 3: From the dropdown menu, select the "Text to Column" option.

Text to Column option in WPS Spreadsheet


Step 4: This will open the Convert Text to Column Wizard, where you'll need to make a series of selections on each screen.

Step 5: On the first screen, in the "Original data type" section, choose the "Delimited" option and then click "Next".

Select Delimited as the Original data type

Step 6: On the next screen, under the "Delimiters" section, select the "Tab" and "Space" options before clicking the "Next" button.

Select Tab and Space as Delimiters

Step 7: On the last screen, in the "Column data format" section, simply choose "General" and then click the "Finish" button.

Select General as Column data format

Step 8: In the results, you'll see two columns: one containing first names and another containing last names. Make any necessary formatting changes before saving the file.

Separate Names using the Text to Column feature in WPS Spreadsheet

Method 3: Flash Fill

The Flash Fill feature in WPS Spreadsheet is a really handy tool and can easily be used even if you're just starting with Excel. Let's look at how to separate first and last names in Excel using the Flash Fill feature in WPS Spreadsheet.

So, we have the same spreadsheet as before, with our employees' full names. To split the columns into First Name and Last Name, here is what we need to do:

Step 1: First, let's create two new columns right beside the Full Name column. Name these columns First Name and Last Name.

Create First name and last name columns

Step 2: This method requires some initial manual data entry. Under the First Name column, manually enter the first name of our first entry.

Enter First Name entry manually

Step 3: Now, simply press the shortcut key for Flash Fill, "CTRL + E", and all the first names for the next entries will be populated in the cells below.

Flash Fill remaining First name entries

Step 4: Repeat this process for the Last Name entry. Enter the last name manually, and then press "CTRL + E" to flash fill all the last name entries respectively.

Flash Fill Last Name entries to separate names in WPS Spreadsheet

While all the methods for separating names in Excel are remarkably simple, I've found myself inclined towards working smart rather than hard. That's why the last method, Flash Fill, particularly resonates with me. Its intuitive functionality allows for swift data manipulation, saving valuable time and effort.

However, it's important to recognize that the best method may vary depending on individual preferences and specific requirements. Whether it's using Flash Fill, Text to Columns, or any other technique, the key is to choose the approach that feels most convenient and efficient for you. After all, the goal is to optimize productivity and achieve results with ease.

Best Alternative to Excel—WPS Office

When workplaces choose to shift to WPS Office, routine tasks are automated, tedious processes become effortless, and the intricate nuances of running a business are managed with precision. WPS Office achieves this by providing a platform where most aspects of business management are effectively put on autopilot, allowing professionals to focus on strategic initiatives and creative endeavors rather than getting bogged down by the minutiae of day-to-day operations. This holistic approach to business productivity not only boosts efficiency but also fosters a culture of innovation and agility, positioning businesses for sustained growth and success in an ever-evolving market landscape.

WPS Spreadsheet

Why Should Business People and Entrepreneurs Choose WPS Office for their Work?

Businesses are increasingly turning to WPS Office, and for good reason. The all-in-one suite, seamlessly integrated with AI capabilities, revolutionizes daily operations by automating tasks and simplifying workflows. Here's why WPS Office is becoming the go-to solution for businesses:

  • Free Excel Templates: WPS Office understands the diverse needs of businesses and offers a wide range of free Excel templates. From budgeting and financial planning to project management and invoicing, these templates provide a solid foundation for various business processes, saving time and effort in creating spreadsheets from scratch.

WPS Templates for Business

  • Robust Security Features: Data security is a top priority for businesses, and WPS Office delivers with its robust security features. With options such as password protection, file encryption, and permission settings, businesses can rest assured that their sensitive information remains safe from unauthorized access, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.

  • Seamless Collaboration: Collaboration is essential for driving productivity and innovation in today's business environment. WPS Office facilitates seamless collaboration with its suite of collaboration tools. Features like track changes, comments, and version history enable real-time collaboration on Excel spreadsheets, allowing teams to work together efficiently regardless of their location.

Share and Collaborate with WPS Office

  • Cost-Effectiveness: In addition to its comprehensive features, WPS Office offers competitive pricing plans that cater to businesses of all sizes. Whether you're a small startup or a large enterprise, WPS Office provides cost-effective solutions that fit your budget without compromising on quality or functionality.


1. How can I handle middle names in Excel?

You can use the formula below to handle middle names in Excel:

=IFNA(TEXTBEFORE(TEXTAFTER(CellReference, " "), " "), "")

Replace "CellReference" with the actual cell reference where the full name is located in your Excel sheet. This formula effectively extracts the middle name from a full name string. If there is no middle name, it returns an empty string. Adjust the cell reference according to your data.

For example, if your cell reference is A2, then you will apply the formula like this:


2. How many formulas are there for separating names?

In Excel, there are three primary formulas frequently utilized for breaking down names:

  • LEFT formula: This function enables the extraction of a specific number of characters from the beginning (left side) of a text string.

  • MID formula: This formula is employed to fetch a specified number of characters from the middle of a text string, starting from a defined position.

  • RIGHT formula: This function extracts a designated number of characters from the end (right side) of a text string.

3. How Can I Combine First Name and Last Name in Excel?

We can combine the First Name and Last Name in Excel using the CONCATENATE function.

Step 1: Click on an empty cell where you want the combined names to appear.

Step 2: Insert the CONCATENATE function in the empty cell.

Step 3: For the first argument, select the cell that contains First Name.

Step 4: Next, enter a space and then select the cell that contains the Last Name.

Note: Entering a space before selecting ensures a space between the first and last names when combined. Press "Enter".

Work Smart With WPS Office

While working smart is essential for efficiency, there's no denying the value of hard work and the lessons it teaches us along the way. One such example is through learning how to separate names in Excel for business. With WPS Office, you get the best of both worlds – the ability to work smartly and the opportunity to learn from the tasks that require manual labor. By leveraging its automated capabilities, you can focus your energy on tasks that demand your attention and creativity, while WPS takes care of the repetitive and mundane aspects of your work. This not only enhances productivity but also allows you to glean insights and skills from the tasks you undertake. Download WPS Office now and embark on a journey of productivity, learning, and growth.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.