Get First Word in Excel & Google Sheets

Written by

Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Steve Rynearson

Last updated on February 7, 2023
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This tutorial will demonstrate how to extract the first word from a cell in Excel & Google Sheets.

Extract first word


Extract First Word From a Text

To extract the first word from a cell, we can use a formula containing the LEFT and FIND functions.

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

Extract First Word Formula

Let’s delve into the more details of the functions used in the above formula.

The FIND Function

We used the FIND function to get the position of the first occurrence of space in the text. By subtracting 1 from this, we can calculate the position of the last letter in the first word.

=FIND(" ",B3)-1

Extract First Word 1st Part of Formula

The LEFT Function

The LEFT Function will extract a certain number of characters from the string, starting from the left. Inputting the result from the FIND Function, gives us the first word:


Extract First Word 2nd Part of Formula

Error Handling

If the cell only has one word, the formula will return the #VALUE error.

So to prevent the formula from returning an error, we can use the following two options using:

The IFERROR Function

Surround the formula with the IFERROR Function.


Extract First Word IFERROR

The IFERROR function performs a calculation. If the calculation results in an error, it returns another value (or calculation). Above, the “iferror” value is the original text string.

Simpler Way

Another way to prevent errors is by adding an additional space to the second argument of the FIND function, with ampersand operator, like this:

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

Extract First Word Simple Way to Handle Error

Now the FIND function will always find a space because we’ve appended a space to the end of each string of text.

Non-Space Separators

If the text string is not separated by space but from a different delimiting character, then by simply changing the value of the first argument in the FIND function with that delimiting character, we’ll get the first word from the text.

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

Extract First Word Non Space Separator Formula

Get Last Word

Extracting the last word from a string of text is more complicated. One option is to use a formula like this:


Exctract the Last word using 2nd Formula

Extract First Word In Google Sheets

The formula to extract the first word from a text works exactly the same in Google Sheets as in Excel:

Extract First Word In Google Sheets

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