Get first name from name

Learn how the get the first name from a name using regular (LEFT, FIND) and user-defined (TextLeft, ExtractWord) functions.

String manipulation formulas are necessary if you want to clean data in Excel. This article will demonstrate three practical ways to solve this problem.

Generic Formula to Extract the first name from a name

Formula to strip the first name from a text:

=LEFT(full_name,FIND(" ",full_name)-1)

In the example, we use the FIND and LEFT functions. In this case, strings are separated with space. Therefore, we aim to find the first space and extract the first name from the left.

Combine the FIND and LEFT functions to extract the first name (without additional spaces or other delimiters) from a full name.

In our example, the cell D3 contains the following formula:

=LEFT(B3,FIND(" ",B3)-1)
use LEFT and FIND function to extract the first name


At first, the FIND function locates the first space character(“ “) in cell B3. After that, it returns the actual position of the first space in the given cell or string.

The result is 1. The LEFT function uses this result as a parameter. In the example, the position of the first separator (space) is 5.

=FIND(" ",B3,1) = 5

The FIND function gets the first five characters from the left.

=LEFT(B3,FIND(" ",B3)-1)

The LEFT function helps us to get the first name because it will get the first string from the left until the first space. We have to cut the space character (apply “-1” in the formula), so the result is “John”.

TextLeft and ExtractNthWord functions

Our free Excel add-in contains useful functions that expand Excel’s built-in function library. Learn more about it.

Get the first name using a UDF (user-defined function)

The TextLeft function provides a quick result and has an easy syntax. The function returns the first word from the source range using the specified delimiter, in the example, space.

apply TEXTLEFT User Defined function

We only have to add the cell reference and space as the second argument.

=TextLeft(B3," ")

Apply the ExtractNthWord function

The function will return with the first word from a string.


The result is “John”.

extract the first name using ExtractNthWord function

Here is the workaround with unusual prefixes: If you have strings with custom prefixes (Dr. Mr., etc.), we must remove them first.

Related Formulas:

Stay tuned.

Istvan Vozar

Istvan is the co-founder of Visual Analytics Ltd. He writes blog posts and helps people to reach the top in Excel.