You can use the following formula in Excel to extract the first 3 words from a cell:

=TEXTBEFORE(A2, " ", 3)

This particular formula extracts the first 3 words from cell **A2**.

The following example shows how to use this formula in practice.

**Example: Extract First 3 Words from Cell in Excel**

Suppose we have the following column of phrases in Excel:

Suppose we would like to extract the first 3 words from each cell in column A.

We can type the following formula into cell **B2** to do so:

=TEXTBEFORE(A2, " ", 3)

We can then click and drag this formula down to each remaining cell in column B:

Column B now contains the first 3 words from each cell in column A.

**Note**: You can replace the value **3** in the formula with any value you’d like to instead extract the first *n* words.

**How This Formula Works**

Recall the formula that we used to extract the first 3 words from each cell:

=TEXTBEFORE(A2, " ", 3)

This formula uses the **TEXTBEFORE **function, which uses the following basic syntax:

**TEXTBEFORE(text, delimiter, [instance_num], …)**

where:

**text**: Text to search**delimiter**: Character or substring to extract text before**instance_num (optional)**: Instance of delimiter before which to extract text (default is 1)

The first argument specifies that we want to search cell **A2**.

The second argument specifies that we want to extract text before a space.

The third argument specifies that we would like to extract the text before the third space.

By using this formula, we are able to extract the first 3 words, since exactly 3 words can occur before the third space is encountered.

**Note**: You can find the complete documentation for the **TEXTBEFORE **function in Excel here.

**Additional Resources**

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common operations in Excel:

Excel: How to Extract First Letter of Each Word

Excel: How to Extract First Number from String

Excel: How to Extract Last Word from Cell