Display the Contacts list in last name, first name format

If you want your Contacts list to be sorted by the last names of your contacts, you must change the display format to last name, first name format. After you change the display format, you might still need to individually change any contacts that were not updated with the format change.

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Change to last name, first name format

You can change the name format for the contacts in the main Microsoft Outlook Contact folder or any contact folders that you create. These folders are listed in the Outlook Address Book (Outlook Address Book: An address book that is automatically created from contacts in the Contacts folder. The contacts can be people inside and outside of your organization. When you update your contacts, the Outlook Address Book is updated as well.). However, you cannot change the name format for names in the Global Address List (GAL) (Global Address List: The address book that contains all user, group, and distribution list e-mail addresses in your organization. The administrator creates and maintains this address book. It may also contain public folder e-mail addresses.). For more information about the GAL, see the Why can't the name format for some contacts be changed? section.

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Account Settings, and then click Account Settings.

Account Settings in the Backstage view

  1. On the Address Books tab, in the Name list, click Outlook Address Book, and then click Change.
  2. Under Outlook Address Books, click the address book that you want to change the contact display format for. For example, click Contacts: Mailbox – Mailbox name.
  3. Under Show names by, click File As (Smith, John).
  4. Click Close on the Microsoft Outlook Address Book and Account Settings dialog boxes.
  5. Exit and restart Outlook.

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Change individual contacts to last name, first name format

After you change the name format for existing contacts in the Outlook Address Book, the change applies to future entries that you create. However, occasionally not all your contacts are updated with the format change. In these cases, you must change the format for each contact.

  1. In Contacts, double-click a contact that does not appear in the last name, first name format.
  2. In the open contact, in the File as box, click the name in the last name, first name format. For example, click Smith, John.
  3. On the Contact tab, in the Actions group, click Save & Close.
  4. Repeat for each contact not displayed in the correct name format.

 Notes 

  • In a contact card, the Display Name for e-mail addresses is the name shown on the To, Cc, and Bcc lines of an e-mail message and also in the Address Book when you search for a contact. The Display Name is created based on how you type the contact's name in the Full Name box.
  • Company names in the Company box that start with The automatically appear under the next word in the name. For example, The Phone Company appears as Phone Company, The.

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Why can't the name format for some contacts be changed?

The contacts displayed in your Outlook Contacts folder make up the contents of the Outlook Address Book (Outlook Address Book: An address book that is automatically created from contacts in the Contacts folder. The contacts can be people inside and outside of your organization. When you update your contacts, the Outlook Address Book is updated as well.). You can also create and name other Contacts folders, and in each of these folders you can change the name format. However, you cannot change the display format of names in the Microsoft Exchange Server Global Address List (GAL) (Global Address List: The address book that contains all user, group, and distribution list e-mail addresses in your organization. The administrator creates and maintains this address book. It may also contain public folder e-mail addresses.). The format for names in the GAL is set by your organization's administrator.

ShowTell me more about the address books

  • Global Address List (GAL)     To display this address book, you must use a Microsoft Exchange Server account. The GAL contains the names and e-mail addresses of everyone in your organization. The GAL is automatically configured with an Exchange account. The Exchange administrator or network administrator creates and maintains the GAL. The GAL can also contain e-mail addresses for external contacts, distribution lists, conference rooms, and equipment.
  • Outlook Address Book     This address book does not require you to use an Exchange account. The Outlook Address Book is created automatically and contains the contacts in your default Contacts folder that lists either e-mail addresses or fax numbers. These contacts are displayed in the Address Book dialog box when you click Contacts in the Address Book list.

If you create additional contacts folders, you can set the properties for each folder to include the contacts as part of the Outlook Address Book.

You can also change the name format for other address books that you create in Outlook. For more information, see Add or remove an address book.


To view all available address books, click Address Book on the toolbar, and then click the down arrow in the Address Book list.

Each of your Contacts folders is listed in the Address Books list.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2010