How to Increment a Number in Excel

By Filonia LeChat

When you view an Excel spreadsheet, you may not even notice an incremented column of numbers running down the left side of the grid. These numbers delineate the rows of the spreadsheet, but you may find that your own work requires incrementing as well, such as when listing different product codes, records or other business finances. While you could simply start at a number and then type every single number after it, you don’t have to. Excel will automatically increment for you; you just have to tell the software what and where.

Launch Excel. Type the number to begin the incrementing into the grid, such as “1.”

Press the “Enter” key to drop to the cell below and type the next number, such as “2.”

Highlight the two cells. Note that when you highlight in Excel, the highlighted cells have a thick black border with a small black box in the bottom-right corner.

Hover the cursor over that black box until the cursor turns into a plus symbol. Click and drag that black box straight down, until the border includes the number of increments required. For example, to increment to 30, drag the border until it is aligned with the 30th line of the grid.

Click anywhere on the grid to release the border and the increment appears.


You need to type at least two numbers for Excel to know you want to increment. Otherwise, if you just type one number and drag the black box, Excel will populate all of the selected cells with that same number.

You do not have to type two following numbers to increment. Excel can also increment in multiples. For example, if you type a “4” and an “8,” Excel will increment 12, 16, 20, 24 and so on.