How to Generate Serial numbers in Excel Automatically: Easy Guide

Excel program is a very useful tool when it comes to generating serial numbers for products and services. The good thing is that it offers many ways and formulas to generate serial numbers. Your work is to choose the right method that generates the type of serial numbers you need for your products. In this article, I will guide you on how to generate serial numbers in Excel Automatically

What is a serial number in Excel?

A serial number is a unique identifier for a product or service. It can be purely numbers, text, or special characters. In most cases, it’s a combination of text, numbers, and characters. The serial number acts as an ID for products and services. It helps users to track down specific products, and manage inventory, especially when dealing with a huge database.

The serial number is used in different industries, such as supermarkets and storage facilities. In supermarkets, the serial number is converted to a bar code or QR code. This code locates the price and manages counts inventory once scanned by a bar code reader.

Seven methods to generate Serial Numbers in Excel Automatically

Let us look at seven ways in which you can generate serial numbers in Excel automatically.

Method 1. Use Row function

You can use the Row function to fill a series of numbers in Excel. These numbers can act as unique identifiers for your products or services. Follow these simple steps.

1. Click on the first cell where you wish to insert the serial numbers

2. Type the Formula =Row(A1) (Replace A1 one with a letter representing your column followed by the first serial number)

Use Row function to generate Serial numbers in Excel

3. Select and drag the fill handle to create serial numbers for the remaining cells automatically.

Drag the Row Formula to generate serial numbers automatically to other cells

As you can see from the image above, we have filled the column with unique serial numbers for each product.

Method 2: Combine Row and Text functions

Serial numbers are not strictly numbers. Therefore, they may be a combination of text, numerical values, and special characters. To achieve this kind of serial number in Excel, you have to use the Row and Text functions together.

1. Type in the following formula in the first cell of your data where you wish to insert the serial numbers.


The above formula will help to combine numbers and text.

Use text and Row functions to generate serial numbers in Excel

2. Select the fill handle and drag it down to populate the rest of the serial numbers automatically

As you can see from the image above, all products have assumed the serial number format 000-000.

Method 3: Use the Fill handle

The fill handle is the easiest method to create serial numbers in Excel.

1. Type the first and the second serial numbers

2. Highlight the two numbers

3. Select the fill handle and drag it down to populate the remaining product’s serial numbers

Use fill handle to generate serial numbers

The above method adds serial numbers to products easily. The serial numbers remain constant even if you delete or move a row.

Method 4: Use the Fill>Series option

The fill series option is an ideal method to add serial numbers to a large data set of products. You can add serial numbers to tens of thousands of products instantly using the fill series option.

1. Write the first serial number of your products or services. (In this method, the serial numbers can only be numerical values)

2. Navigate to fill, then select series under the home tab.

series method for generating serial numbers

3. In the pop-up window, select series in Columns if you wish to add serial numbers on rows and vice versa. Select the step value that you wish. Under the stop value, type in the last serial number and press okay

series settings to generate serial numbers in Excel

4. Excel will generate a series of serial numbers automatically following your prompts

As you can see from the image above, Excel has generated the serial numbers automatically.

Method 5: Use the VBA code Option

1. Open the Excel workbook where you want to generate the serial numbers.

2. Press Alt + F11 to open the VBA editor.

3. In the editor, go to Insert > Module to create a new module.

VBA code to generate Serial numbers Automatically

4. Copy and paste the code below code into the module.

Sub GenerateSerialNumbers()
    Dim rowNum As Long
    Dim serialNum As Long
    rowNum = 2 'starting row number to generate serial numbers
    'Loop through each row until a blank cell is found in column A
    Do While Not IsEmpty(Range("A" & rowNum))
        'Assign the serial number to column B
        serialNum = serialNum + 1
        Range("B" & rowNum).Value = serialNum
        'Move to the next row
        rowNum = rowNum + 1
End Sub

5. In the workbook, select the cell in the second row of column A where you want to start generating serial numbers.

6. Go to Developer > Macros (if you don’t see the Developer tab, go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon and check the Developer box).

7. Select the “GenerateSerialNumbers” macro and click Run.

8. The serial numbers should be generated in column B,

VBA is a useful feature if you want to generate serial numbers for a large data set. The above VBA code generates a VBA code if there is a product in Column A. It stops generating if the list of products ends.

Method 6: Use the Subtotal Function

To generate serial numbers in Excel using the Subtotal function, follow these steps:

1. Open Microsoft Excel and create a new worksheet.

2. Enter your data into the worksheet, including a column for your serial numbers.

3. Click on the first cell in the column where you want the serial numbers to appear.

4. Type =SUBTOTAL(3,$A$1:A1) into the cell and press “Enter.” Note that “3” is the code for “count” in the SUBTOTAL function, which will count the number of cells in the range.

How to generate serial numbers using subtotal function

5. Double-click the fill handle (the small black square at the bottom-right corner of the cell) to copy the formula down the entire column.

6. The serial numbers will now appear in the column based on the number of cells that contain data in the range.

If you want to start the serial numbers at a different value, you can modify the formula. For example, to start the serial numbers at 100, change the formula to “=SUBTOTAL(3,$A$1:A1)+99”. This will add 99 to each count, so the first serial number will be 100.

Download Practice Workbook Template

Method 7 Use the sum method

Generating serial numbers using the sum method involves creating a series of numbers that add up to a predetermined value, such as the serial number you want to generate. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to generate serial numbers using the sum method:

1. Determine the range of numbers that you want to use to generate the serial numbers. For example, if you want to generate serial numbers from 1 to 100, your range would be 1 to 100.

2. Add up all the numbers in your range. For example, if your range is 1 to 100, the sum would be 1+2+3+…+100 = 5050.

3. Choose a starting number for your serial numbers. This could be any number within your range, such as 1001.

4. Subtract your starting number from the sum of your range. For example, if your range is 1 to 100 and your starting number is 1001, the result would be 5050 – 1001 = 4049.

5. Generate a series of numbers that add up to the result from step 4. One way to do this is to start with the largest number in your range and work backward, subtracting each number from the result until you reach zero. For example, if your range is 1 to 100 and the result from step 4 is 4049, you could start with 100 and subtract it from 4049, giving you 3949. Then you could subtract 99 from 3949, giving you 3850, and so on until you reach zero.

6. Add each number in your series to your starting number to generate your serial numbers. For example, if your starting number is 1001 and your series is 100, 99, 98, …, your serial numbers would be 1101, 1200, 1298, and so on, until you reach the end of your series.


In this tutorial, we have covered seven ways in which you can generate serial numbers in Excel Automatically. Use the practice sheet in the article to try out these methods. In case you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.

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