Numbering Entries in a Report or Form

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by Allen Browne, 20 April 2005    (for Access v2+)

Microsoft Access Tips for Casual Users

Provided by Allen Browne, Updated Feb 2008.

Numbering Entries in a Report or Form


There is a very simple way to number records sequentially on a report. It always works regardless how the report is sorted or filtered.

With your report open in Design View:

  1. From the Toolbox (Access 1 - 2003) or the Controls group of the Design ribbon (Access 2007), add a text box for displaying the number.
  2. Select the text box, and in the Properties Window, set these properties:
  Control Source =1
         Running Sum Over Group

That's it! This text box will automatically increment with each record.


Casual users sometimes want to number records in a form as well, e.g. to save the number of a record so as to return there later. Don't do it! Although Access does show "Record xx of yy" in the lower left ofthe form, this number can change for any number of reasons, such as:

  • The user clicks the "A-Z" button to change the sort order;
  • The user applies a filter;
  • A new record is inserted;
  • An old record is deleted.

In relational database theory, the records in a table cannot have any physical order, so record numbers represent faulty thinking. In place of record numbers, Access uses the Primary Key of the table, or the Bookmark of a recordset. If you are accustomed from another database and find it difficult to conceive of life without record numbers, check out What, no record numbers?

You still want to refer to the number of a record in a form as currently filtered and sorted? There are ways to do so. In Access 97 or later, use the form's CurrentRecord property, by adding a text box with this expression in the ControlSource property:


In Access 2, open your form in Design View in design view and follow these steps:

  1. From the Toolbox, add a text box for displaying the number.
  2. Select the text box, and in the Properties Window, set its Name to txtPosition. Be sure to leave the Control Source property blank.
  3. Select the form, and in the Properties Window set the On Current property to [Event Procedure] .
  4. Click the "..." button beside this. Access opens the Code window.
  5. Between the lines Sub Form_Current() and End Sub, paste these lines:
    On Error GoTo Err_Form_Current
        Dim rst As Recordset

        Set rst = Me.RecordsetClone
        rst.Bookmark = Me.Bookmark
        Me.txtPosition = rst.AbsolutePosition + 1

        Set rst = Nothing
        Exit Sub

        If Err = 3021 Then   'No current record
            Me.txtPosition = rst.RecordCount + 1
            MsgBox Error$, 16, "Error in Form_Current()"
        End If
        Resume Exit_Form_Current

The text box will now show a number matching the one between the NavigationButtons on your form.


For details of how to rank records in a query, see Ranking in a Query

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This is a cached tutorial, reproduced with permission.

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