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Return to Autonumbering & Identity Columns

Autonumbering & Identity Columns

Written by Bill Graziano on 25 June 2000

John writes "I'd like to be able to automatically number each row as it comes into the table. Is possible to do this? How do I know what the value of the row I just inserted is?"

Well John,

What you can do is set up an identity column in SQL Server. This will autonumber the rows. In Enterprise Manager, start by setting a column with a datatype of int. This column cannot allow nulls. Check the Identity checkbox and the Identity Seed and Identity Increment will be set to 1 automatically. These do just what they say they will. The Identity Seed is the value of the first entry in the table. The Identity Increment is the value that will be added to the previous row to get the next identity value.

Note that if you delete all the rows in a table and start adding rows, the identity column will pick up where it left off. You can reset it but that's a topic for another day.

The script to create a table looks like this:

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Items] (
        [ItemID] [int] IDENTITY (1, 1) NOT NULL ,
	[ItemName] [char] (50) NOT NULL

You can use the @@IDENTITY function to return the value you just inserted.