What Data Type Assigns the Next Consecutive Number to New Records?


Scott Campbell

What Data Type Assigns the Next Consecutive Number to New Records?

When working with databases, it is common to encounter a scenario where you need to assign a unique identifier to each new record. This unique identifier is often used as a primary key, allowing you to easily identify and reference individual records within the database. One commonly used data type for this purpose is the AutoNumber data type.

The AutoNumber Data Type

The AutoNumber data type in databases, such as Microsoft Access or MySQL, automatically assigns the next consecutive number to new records as they are added to a table. This ensures that each record has a unique identifier without requiring manual input or management.

Creating an AutoNumber Field in Microsoft Access

If you are working with Microsoft Access, you can easily create an AutoNumber field by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Open your database and navigate to the table where you want to add the AutoNumber field.
  • Step 2: In Design View, select an empty column where you want the AutoNumber field to be added.
  • Step 3: In the Field Properties section, set the Data Type property as “AutoNumber”.
  • Step 4: Customize any additional properties like field length or format if needed.
  • Step 5: Save your changes and exit Design View. The AutoNumber field will be automatically assigned and incremented for each new record added.

An Example Use Case

Let’s consider a scenario where you have a table called “Customers” in your database. Each time a new customer signs up, you want to assign a unique customer ID to their record. By using the AutoNumber data type for the “CustomerID” field, you can ensure that each new record receives the next consecutive number automatically.

The AutoNumber data type eliminates the need for manual management and reduces the risk of duplicate or conflicting identifiers. It simplifies data entry and retrieval processes, enabling efficient querying and sorting based on unique identifiers.


The AutoNumber data type is a valuable tool when it comes to assigning unique identifiers to new records in databases. By using this data type, you can automate the process of generating consecutive numbers, ensuring each record has a distinct identifier without manual intervention. Whether working with Microsoft Access or other databases supporting this feature, understanding and utilizing the AutoNumber data type helps maintain data integrity and simplifies database management.

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