How to Change Name Format in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Changing the name format in Excel can be a bit tricky, but it’s totally doable with a few straightforward steps. This guide will show you how to switch the format of names from "First Last" to "Last, First" (or vice versa) using simple Excel functions. By the end, you’ll have clean, standardized names in your spreadsheet.

Step-by-Step Tutorial: Changing Name Format in Excel

In this section, we’ll go through the process of changing the name format in Excel step by step. By following these instructions, you can easily reformat names to suit your needs.

Step 1: Open Your Excel File

First, open your Excel file where the names are currently formatted.

Make sure your list of names is in a single column to keep things straightforward. If your names are scattered across different columns, consider copying them into a single column to simplify the process.

Step 2: Insert a New Column

Next, insert a new column where you want the reformatted names to appear.

This new column will be used to generate and display the names in the new format. To insert a new column, right-click on the column header (e.g., "B") and select "Insert."

Step 3: Use the Formula

In the first cell of the new column, enter the following formula: =RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-FIND(" ",A2)) & ", " & LEFT(A2,FIND(" ",A2)-1)

This formula splits the first and last names and rearranges them in "Last, First" format. Adjust the cell references (A2) as needed to match your specific data.

Step 4: Drag the Formula Down

Click on the small square at the bottom-right corner of the cell with the formula and drag it down to apply the formula to the rest of the column.

This will automatically reformat all the names in the column. Ensure you drag the formula down to cover all the rows that contain names.

Step 5: Copy and Paste Values

Once you have all the names in the new format, copy the entire column with the reformatted names and paste it back as "values" to remove the formulas.

To do this, select the column with the reformatted names, right-click, choose "Copy," then right-click again and select "Paste Special" -> "Values."

When you complete these steps, your names should be in the desired format, either "Last, First" or however you specified.

Tips for Changing Name Format in Excel

  • Double-Check Your Data: Before applying formulas, ensure there are no extra spaces or special characters in the names.
  • Save a Backup: Always keep a backup of your original file in case something goes wrong.
  • Use ‘Text to Columns’: If your names are in a single cell but need separating, use the "Text to Columns" feature before reformatting.
  • Practice on Sample Data: Try the steps on a small set of sample data before applying them to the entire dataset.
  • Check for Consistency: Ensure all names follow the same format (e.g., "First Last") before starting. Mixed formats will complicate the process.

Frequently Asked Questions about Changing Name Format in Excel

Can I change the name format for multiple columns at once?

Yes, you can apply the formula to multiple columns by adjusting the references and using similar steps for each column.

What if my names have middle initials or suffixes?

You’ll need a more complex formula to account for middle initials or suffixes. Custom formulas can handle these variations but might require additional steps.

Can I reformat names without formulas?

Yes, you can use the "Flash Fill" feature in Excel to reformat names without using complex formulas. Type the desired format in one cell, and Excel will suggest the rest.

Will these steps work in Google Sheets?

Most steps will work similarly in Google Sheets, but some functions might have different names or syntax. Adapt the steps accordingly.

How do I handle names with different spacing issues?

Use Excel’s "TRIM" function to remove any extra spaces before applying the name format change.


  1. Open your Excel file.
  2. Insert a new column.
  3. Use the formula.
  4. Drag the formula down.
  5. Copy and paste values.


Changing the name format in Excel doesn’t have to be a headache. With these easy-to-follow steps and a bit of practice, you’ll master it in no time. Remember, the key is to stay organized: check your data, use the right formulas, and always keep a backup. These steps should help you handle most name formatting challenges, but there’s always something new to learn. For more complex scenarios, don’t hesitate to explore additional Excel functions like "Flash Fill" or to seek out more advanced tutorials. Happy Excel-ing!

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