How to Combine First and Last Names in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Combining first and last names in Excel into one cell is a breeze. Simply use the ampersand (&) symbol or the CONCATENATE function to merge the names. It’s an essential skill for organizing data, especially in large spreadsheets where you need to see full names without scrolling.

After you complete the action, you’ll have a single cell with the full name, making it easier to sort, filter, and analyze your data.


Have you ever faced the daunting task of manually combining hundreds, if not thousands, of first and last names in an Excel spreadsheet? It’s time-consuming and, let’s face it, nobody wants to spend hours on such a tedious task. Fortunately, Excel offers some nifty tricks to combine first and last names into one cell quickly and effortlessly. This skill is particularly relevant for HR professionals, event organizers, teachers, or anyone who manages large databases.

Understanding how to merge cells is a fundamental skill in Excel that not only saves time but also helps maintain a clean, organized dataset. But why stop at just first and last names? Once you’ve mastered this technique, you’ll see how it can be applied to various other scenarios, such as combining addresses, product information, or even creating unique identifiers for a database. Let’s dive in and become a pro at merging cells in Excel!

Step by Step Tutorial to Combine First and Last Names in Excel

Before we start with the steps, it’s important to know that this tutorial will help you combine the names into one cell without any loss of data. This can be particularly useful when you’re looking to create a more readable format for mailing lists or reports.

Step 1: Select the Cell for the Combined Name

Click on the cell where you want the combined name to appear.

This cell will be the destination for the merged names. It’s usually to the right or below the cells containing the first and last names.

Step 2: Use the Ampersand (&) Symbol

Type the formula =A2&” “&B2 (assuming A2 holds the first name and B2 holds the last name).

The ampersand symbol is used in Excel to join or concatenate two or more text strings into one string. The ” ” (space enclosed in quotation marks) is used to add a space between the first and last name.

Step 3: Press Enter and Drag the Fill Handle

After entering the formula, press Enter and drag the fill handle over the cells you want to apply the formula to.

The fill handle is a small square at the bottom-right corner of the selected cell. Dragging it down or across other cells copies the formula to those cells.

Step 4: Use the CONCATENATE Function as an Alternative

If you prefer using functions, type =CONCATENATE(A2,” “,B2).

The CONCATENATE function is another way to merge data in Excel. It allows for more control, especially when combining multiple cells, and is a great alternative to the ampersand symbol.


Saves TimeCombining names using Excel’s formulas is far quicker than doing it manually, freeing up your time for more important tasks.
Maintains Data IntegrityWhen using the formulas correctly, there is no risk of data loss or errors that can occur with manual entry.
VersatilityOnce you’ve learned this skill, it can be applied to a wide range of data combination needs beyond just first and last names.


Learning CurveFor Excel beginners, learning formulas can be initially overwhelming.
Formula ErrorsIf not done correctly, formulas can lead to errors in your data, which can sometimes be hard to spot.
SpecificityThe method discussed works primarily for basic name combinations and might need adjustments for more complex scenarios.

Additional Information

While the steps above will get you through most situations, there are a few additional tips that can come in handy. For instance, what if you encounter middle names or titles? In such cases, you would simply add more ampersands and quotation marks to your formula. Also, remember to always double-check your formulas for any potential errors that might skew your data.

Excel’s CONCATENATE function has a modern successor called CONCAT and another variant called TEXTJOIN, which offers even more functionality, such as including delimiters only between texts that are not blank. These functions can be particularly useful when working with inconsistent data. Lastly, don’t hesitate to use Excel’s help feature or online forums if you get stuck; there’s a whole community out there ready to help you out. Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering Excel functions!


  1. Select the cell for the combined name
  2. Use the ampersand symbol or CONCATENATE function
  3. Press Enter and drag the fill handle
  4. Use CONCATENATE for more control if desired

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I combine more than two names using these methods?

Yes, you can combine multiple names by adding more ampersands or using the CONCATENATE function with additional parameters.

What if I want a comma between the first and last name?

Simply replace the ” ” with “, ” in the formula to include a comma and a space.

Can these methods be used for other types of data combination?

Absolutely, these methods can be used to combine any text strings in Excel.

How do I undo the combination if I make a mistake?

You can undo your action by pressing Ctrl + Z or by using the Undo button in Excel.

What if there are blank cells in my data?

If you’re using the CONCAT or TEXTJOIN functions, they can ignore blank cells. With the ampersand method, blank cells will result in double spaces.


Excel is a powerful tool that, when wielded correctly, can handle a multitude of data manipulation tasks with ease. Combining first and last names into one cell might seem trivial, but it’s a fundamental Excel skill that opens the door to efficient data management. Whether you’re preparing a guest list, organizing employee records, or cleaning up a database, this technique will serve you well.

Plus, once you grasp the basics, you’ll be well on your way to conquering more complex Excel functions. So, embrace the challenge, experiment with the formulas, and watch as your Excel proficiency grows! Remember, the key to mastering Excel is practice, practice, and more practice.

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