Automatically number rows

Unlike other Microsoft Office programs, Excel does not provide a button to number data automatically. But, you can easily add sequential numbers to rows of data by dragging the fill handle to fill a column with a series of numbers or by using the ROW function.

Tip: If you are looking for a more advanced auto-numbering system for your data, and Access is installed on your computer, you can import the Excel data to an Access database. In an Access database, you can create a field that automatically generates a unique number when you enter a new record in a table.

What do you want to do?

Fill a column with a series of numbers

Use the ROW function to number rows

Display or hide the fill handle

Fill a column with a series of numbers

  1. Select the first cell in the range that you want to fill.

  2. Type the starting value for the series.

  3. Type a value in the next cell to establish a pattern.

    Tip: For example, if you want the series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5..., type 1 and 2 in the first two cells. If you want the series 2, 4, 6, 8..., type 2 and 4.

  4. Select the cells that contain the starting values.

    Note: In Excel 2013 and later, the Quick Analysis button is displayed by default when you select more than one cell containing data. You can ignore the button to complete this procedure.

  5. Drag the fill handle Fill handle across the range that you want to fill.

    Note: As you drag the fill handle across each cell, Excel displays a preview of the value. If you want a different pattern, drag the fill handle by holding down the right-click button, and then choose a pattern.

    To fill in increasing order, drag down or to the right. To fill in decreasing order, drag up or to the left.

    Tip: If you do not see the fill handle, you may have to display it first. For more information, see Display or hide the fill handle.

    Note: These numbers are not automatically updated when you add, move, or remove rows. You can manually update the sequential numbering by selecting two numbers that are in the right sequence, and then dragging the fill handle to the end of the numbered range.

Use the ROW function to number rows

  1. In the first cell of the range that you want to number, type =ROW(A1).

    The ROW function returns the number of the row that you reference. For example, =ROW(A1) returns the number 1.

  2. Drag the fill handle Fill handle across the range that you want to fill.

    Tip: If you do not see the fill handle, you may have to display it first. For more information, see Display or hide the fill handle.

  • These numbers are updated when you sort them with your data. The sequence may be interrupted if you add, move, or delete rows. You can manually update the numbering by selecting two numbers that are in the right sequence, and then dragging the fill handle to the end of the numbered range.

  • If you are using the ROW function, and you want the numbers to be inserted automatically as you add new rows of data, turn that range of data into an Excel table. All rows that are added at the end of the table are numbered in sequence. For more information, see Create or delete an Excel table in a worksheet.

To enter specific sequential number codes, such as purchase order numbers, you can use the ROW function together with the TEXT function. For example, to start a numbered list by using 000-001, you enter the formula =TEXT(ROW(A1),"000-000") in the first cell of the range that you want to number, and then drag the fill handle to the end of the range.

Display or hide the fill handle

The fill handle Fill handle displays by default, but you can turn it on or off.

  1. In Excel 2010 and later, click the File tab, and then click Options.

    In Excel 2007, click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image , and then click Excel Options.

  2. In the Advanced category, under Editing options, select or clear the Enable fill handle and cell drag-and-drop check box to display or hide the fill handle.

Note:  To help prevent replacing existing data when you drag the fill handle, ensure the Alert before overwriting cells check box is selected. If you do not want Excel to display a message about overwriting cells, you can clear this check box.

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See Also

Overview of formulas in Excel

How to avoid broken formulas

Find and correct errors in formulas

Excel keyboard shortcuts and function keys

Lookup and reference functions (reference)

Excel functions (alphabetical)

Excel functions (by category)

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