How to Sort by Last Name in Excel (With Example)

You can use a simple two-step process to sort rows based on last name in Excel:

Step 1: Create new column that contains last name.

Step 2: Use Sort feature to sort by last name.

The following step-by-step example shows how to sort rows by last name in Excel in practice.

Step 1: Enter the Names

Suppose we have the following list of names in Excel:

Step 2: Create New Column that Contains Last Name

We can use the following formula to extract the last name from each full name:

=RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-FIND("*",SUBSTITUTE(A2," ","*",LEN(A2)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A2," ","")))))

We can type this formula into cell B2, then drag and fill it down to the remaining cells in column B:

Column B now contains the last name of each full name in column A.

Notice that the formula works whether or not the name contains a middle name.

Note: This formula works by replacing the last space in the name with an asterisk ( * ) and then uses the FIND function to locate the asterisk and extract a certain number of characters in the name from the right.

Step 3: Sort by Last Name

Lastly, we can highlight the range A1:B11, then click the Data tab and then click the Sort icon within the Sort & Filter group:

In the new window that appears, choose the column titled Last Name in the dropdown menu for Sort by:

Once you click OK, the rows will be sorted by last name from A to Z:

Note that you can also delete the column titled Last Name if you don’t actually want to keep a separate column with the last names of each person.

Additional Resources

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

How to Count Frequency of Text in Excel
How to Check if Cell Contains Text from List in Excel
How to Calculate Average If Cell Contains Text in Excel

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