Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Automatically Numbering Rows.

Automatically Numbering Rows

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 1, 2020)

Libby wants to insert a row number into column A of her worksheet. She wants the column to reflect the correct number of the row, even when she adds or deletes rows.

There are any number of formulas you can use in column A that will return a row number. Perhaps the easiest is to use the ROW function, like this:

=ROW()

This formula returns the row number of the cell in which the formula appears. If you want to offset the row number returned (for instance, if you have some headers in rows 1 and 2 and you want cell A3 to return a row value of 1), then you can modify the formula to reflect the desired adjustment:

=ROW()-2

Of course, the ROW function isn't the only candidate for your formulas. You can also use a formula that actually examines the contents of the adjacent column (B) and return a row number only if there is something in that adjacent cell.

=IF(TRIM(B1)<>"",COUNTA($B$1:B1)&".","")

This formula, placed in cell A1, examines the contents of cell B1. If there is something there, then the COUNTA function is used to count the number of occupied cells between cell B1 and whatever cell is to the right of where this formula is placed. The formula also places a period after the row number that is returned. Make sure the dollar signs are included, as shown, and then copy the formula down as many cells as necessary to create your row numbers.

The advantage to a formula such as this one is that it checks to see if something is in column B before it returns a row number. This means that you can copy the formula down beyond the actual end of your data rows, and only those rows that have data (triggered by something in column B) will have a row number. The same sort of technique could be used with the ROW function instead of the COUNTA function:

=IF(TRIM(B1)<>"",ROW()&".","")

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2911) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Automatically Numbering Rows.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Getting Rid of Spaces in Merged Data

When you merge information with a Word document, you may not be completely satisfied with the appearance of some of the ...

Discover More

Calculating a Group Retirement Date

Calculating a retirement date can be as simple as doing some date math to see when a person reaches a certain age. ...

Discover More

Backwards Date Parsing

Enter information into a worksheet, and you come to anticipate (and count on) how Excel will interpret that information ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Using Named Formulas or Constants

An easy way to create a name for a formula or constant value. The name can then be used in other formulas or for ...

Discover More

Calculating the Interval between Occurrences

With a long list of items in a worksheet, you may want to determine the last time a particular item appeared in the list. ...

Discover More

Condensing Sequential Values to a Single Row

If you have a bunch of ZIP Codes or part numbers in a list, you may want to "condense" the list so that sequential series ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 + 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.