Extract text in Excel the Easy way


Here are 5 quick formulas for you to extract text from cells in Excel.

Have you ever had a problem where you need to get a specific word from a string in another cell? This type of work is referred to as Data Manipulation, and is a very important skills to learn for anyone using MS Excel. (This can help a lot when creating Pivot Tables!)

Extract text before first space (or comma or other character)

=LEFT(A1,(FIND(" ",A1,1)-1))

Note: if you need a comma or some other character instead of a space, replace the ” “ part with the character you need wrapped in double quotes.


Extract text before first comma
=LEFT(A1,(FIND(“,”,A1,1)-1))

Extract text before first ???
=LEFT(A1,(FIND(“???”,A1,1)-1))

This formula will extract the all the text from cell A1 that occurs before the first space. A great example of this is when you need to extract the first names from a column of full names.

Snapshot of Excel page with text we want to extract to get first name from full name

We start with a list of Full Names in Column A, and we want to extract all the First Names to be in Column B.


Snapshot of Excel page with text we want to extract to get first name from full name with formula
  • Select cell B2
  • In the function bar, type the formula =LEFT(A2,(FIND(” “,A2,1)-1))
  • Press the [Enter] or [Return] key

place cursor in bottom right corner of excel cell to see + symbol

To apply the formula to the entire column, place your cursor in the lower right corner of the cell until you see the little + symbol.

Then just double click, and watch the magic!


extracted text from excel with first name from full name

Extract text after first space (or comma or other character)

=MID(A2,FIND(" ",A2)+1,LEN(A2))

Note: if you need a comma or some other character instead of a space, replace the ” “ part with the character you need wrapped in double quotes.


Extract text after first comma
=MID(A2,FIND(“,”,A2)+1,LEN(A2))

Extract text after first ???
=MID(A2,FIND(“???”,A2)+1,LEN(A2))

This formula will extract the ALL the text from cell A1 that occurs after the first space. A great example of this is when you need to extract the last names from a column of full names.

get text after character in excel

We start with a list of Full Names in Column A, and we want to extract all the Last Names to be in Column B.


select cell b2 and type excel formula
  • Select cell B2
  • In the function bar, type the formula =MID(A2,FIND(” “,A2)+1,LEN(A2))
  • Press the [Enter] or [Return] key

apply formula to entire column in excel

To apply the formula to the entire column, place your cursor in the lower right corner of the cell until you see the little + symbol.

Then just double click, and watch the magic!


get last name and first name from the full name in Microsoft Excel

Extract text before second space (or comma or other character)

=LEFT(A2, SEARCH(" ", A2, SEARCH(" ", A2) + 1))

That complex formula above will get ALL the text from cell A2 that occurs before the second space.

If you need to get a specific word from a string with commas instead, then just replace ” “ with “,”. Like this formula below:

=LEFT(A2, SEARCH(",", A2, SEARCH(",", A2) + 1))

Note: the code above will include the trailing comma. If you need to strip off the last comma, then use this instead:

=LEFT(A2, SEARCH(",", A2, SEARCH(",", A2) + 1)-1)

Pro Tip: Once you have the formula entered in properly, you can very quickly apply it to the entire column: (scroll up to the previous sections for “How To” screenshots)

  • Move cursor to bottom right hand corner of cell (with formula already entered)
  • When you see the little + symbol, double click

Extract text after second space (or comma or other character)

=RIGHT(A2, LEN(A2) - (SEARCH(" ", A2, SEARCH(" ", A2) + 1)))

The code above will extract ALL text after the second space from cell A2.

If you need to get a specific word from a string with commas instead, then just replace ” ” with “,”. Like this formula below:

=RIGHT(A2, LEN(A2) - (SEARCH(",", A2, SEARCH(",", A2) + 1)))

Pro Tip: Once you have the formula entered in properly, you can very quickly apply it to the entire column: (scroll up to the previous sections for “How To” screenshots)

  • Move cursor to bottom right hand corner of cell (with formula already entered)
  • When you see the little + symbol, double click

Extract text between two spaces (or two commas or two characters)

=MID(A2,FIND(" ",A2)+1,FIND(" ",A2,FIND(" ",A2)+1)-FIND(" ",A2))

The code above will extract the string in A2 that is between two spaces. This is ideal when you have a Full Name column (firstName MiddleName lastName) and need to extract only the middle name.

If you need to extract a string from a comma delimited cell, then you could use this formula instead:

=MID(A2,FIND(",",A2)+1,FIND(",",A2,FIND(",",A2)+1)-FIND(",",A2)-1)

Pro Tip: Once you have the formula entered in properly, you can very quickly apply it to the entire column: (scroll up to the previous sections for “How To” screenshots)

  • Move cursor to bottom right hand corner of cell (with formula already entered)
  • When you see the little + symbol, double click

Anything I missed?

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