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You’ll be LEFT behind if you try to extract a patient’s last name without watching Excel Video 155. The LEFT function has two parameters. First, enter the text string you want to extract text from, which in our example is the cell with the patient’s full name. Then, tell Excel how many characters to extract starting at the left end of the text.
Remember in Excel Video 154 that FIND helped us find the comma that separated a patient’s last name from the first name. That’s how we’ll tell Excel how many characters we need from the LEFT function. We’ll take the answer from the FIND function and subtract one so that we get the patient’s full last name without the comma. You’ll see in Excel Video 155 that if you don’t subtract one, the LEFT function will give you each patient’s last name, followed by a comma.
Combining LEFT and FIND makes it easy to extract a patient’s last name from their full name if the last name is separated from the first name by a comma. Pulling the patient’s first name is a little trickier. We’ll use the RIGHT function to start working on that next time.