Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Generating Unique Numbers for Worksheets.

Generating Unique Numbers for Worksheets

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 26, 2015)


Sometimes you may need Excel to generate a unique number for your worksheets. For instance, you could be using Excel to create forms such as invoices, statements, or tracking sheets, and you need unique numbers for each form (I'll call this a ticket number). This, of course, implies that Excel needs to remember the number from one session to the next.

There are a couple of ways you can approach this problem. If the numbers don't need to be sequential, you could create a ticket number based on the current time of day, in seconds. The following macro can be added to the ThisWorksheet object:

Private Sub Workbook_NewSheet(ByVal Sh As Object)
    Dim lTicket As Long
    lTicket = CLng(Time * 24 * 60 * 60)
    Sh.Range("A1") = lTicket
End Sub

The macro is triggered every time a new worksheet is added to the workbook. It takes the current time, converts it to an integer number of seconds, and then places that value into cell A1. The likelihood of duplicating ticket numbers within any given day is remote, but it could happen over time. (For instance, if you create a ticket at the exact same time today that you did yesterday or last week.)

To get around this problem, you could create a ticket number in the following manner:

Private Sub Workbook_NewSheet(ByVal Sh As Object)
    Dim sTemp As String
    sTemp = Format(Date, "yymmdd") & Format(Time, "hhmmss")
    Sh.Range("A1") = sTemp
End Sub

This version of the event handler constructs a ticket number based both the date and time. Unless you are creating tickets very quickly, this approach should reduce the possibility of duplicate numbers generated by the macro.

If the numbers must be sequential within the current workbook, then you can define a name that contains the current high value of your ticket number, and then a macro that places that number in a cell on a new worksheet and increments the value of the stored number. Follow these steps to start:

  1. Display the Formulas tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click on the Define Name tool in the Defined Names group. Excel displays the New Name dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The New Name dialog box.

  4. In the Name box, enter a name such as MaxNum.
  5. In the Refers To area at the bottom of the dialog box, enter an equal sign followed by the value you want used for the next ticket number.
  6. Click on OK. The new name is stored in the workbook.

Now, add the following macro to the ThisWorksheet object in the VBA Editor:

Private Sub Workbook_NewSheet(ByVal Sh As Object)
    Dim iMax As Integer
    iMax = Mid(ThisWorkbook.Names("MaxNum"), 2)
    Sh.Range("A1") = iMax
    iMax = iMax + 1
    ThisWorkbook.Names("MaxNum").RefersTo = "=" & iMax
End Sub

This macro is executed every time you insert a new worksheet in the workbook. It retrieves the value you stored in the MaxNum, places that value into cell A1 of the new worksheet, and then increments what is stored in MaxNum.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11192) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Generating Unique Numbers for Worksheets.

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. ...


Shifting Objects Off a Sheet

One day you are just editing your worksheet like you normally do, then you see an error that says "Cannot shift object off ...

Discover More

Incrementing References by Multiples when Copying Formulas

You can easily set up a formula to perform some calculation on a range of cells. When you copy that formula, the copied ...

Discover More

Easily Entering Dispersed Data

Need to enter information into a bunch of cells that aren't anywhere near each other in the worksheet? Here's a handy way to ...

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 (ribbon)

Showing RGB Colors in a Cell

Excel allows you to specify the RGB (red, green, and blue) value for any color used in a cell. Here's a quick way to see the ...

Discover More

Storing a User's Location before Running a Macro

Macros are often used to process information in a workbook. If your macro makes changes in what is selected in the workbook, ...

Discover More

Working while a Macro is Running

If you have a macro that takes a long time to process a workbook, you might want to continue working in Excel while the macro ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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 8Mpixels. 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 - 4?

2016-09-02 08:09:31

Tajsia Oakley

Is there a way these instructions can be broken down any simpler?

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

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.