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Making Numbered Tickets

Gail wrote:

I want to make 300 numbered tickets for an event. The number on one side must match the number on the stub end that is given to the ticket holder. What is the best way to set up a document to do this without having to manually enter 300 numbers?

The best way to handle this depends on whether you're using CS2 or CS3. I much prefer the CS3 method.

CS2 (or earlier) "Cheesy" Numbering

There's an old Steve Martin joke about how to make a million dollars which starts, "First, get a million dollars..." That's the key to this trick, too: First, get a bunch of numbers. Here's a file with 1,197 numbers in it. Now import or paste those numbers into a thread so that the numbers appear in the right place. If you need two matching numbers, just import it twice.

To ensure each number fills its own text frame, select the whole story (Command/Ctrl-A), open the Keep Options (Command/Ctrl-Option/Alt-K) and choose In Next Frame from the Start Paragraph pop-up menu.


(Ticket artwork courtesy of says-it. Thanks, Mordy, for pointing out this site!)

CS3 List Numbering

A significantly more elegant way to handle numbering in InDesign is to use the autonumbering feature in CS3. (CS2 also has an paragraph numbering feature, but it's not nearly as powerful.)

First, create a numbering "list" by choosing Type > Bulleted & Numbered Lists > Define Lists. Then click New to create a new list. You can name it anything you want, but make sure the Continued Numbers across Stories is enabled:


After you click OK and close the Define Lists dialog box, create a text frame and type any character (such as a space). You need at least one space to make the autonumbering kick in.

Now Option/Alt-click on the Autonumbering button in the Control panel (or choose Bullets and Numbering from the Control panel flyout menu) and choose the list you created in the Lists pop-up menu. You might want to adjust the other settings to match this:


Now you're done. Click OK and you should see the number appear in the text frame. To make more numbers, just duplicate this frame. Every time you make a new frame, InDesign increments the number automatically. Note that in the following image, the frames are not threaded together:


Master Pages
You may be tempted to place this number on a master page. That would make sense, but there's a catch: Autonumbered paragraphs on a master page don't update until you override them. That is, you have to Command/Ctrl-Shift-click on them to make them "kick in" and update to the correct number.

So what if you need 20 pages of tickets? 100? 1000? Doing that without a master page is annoying, but Anne-Marie suggested to me a great workaround:

  1. Go ahead and put the items on a master page.
  2. On the document page, override the items by Command/Ctrl-Shift-dragging over them (or clicking on them).
  3. Select that one page and duplicate it in the Pages panel, or by choosing Layout > Pages > Duplicate Spread.
  4. Select the original page and the duplicate and then copy those. Repeat this (select pages and duplicate) until you have enough pages.

Unfortunately, InDesign isn't exactly speedy at updating these numbers when you add a bunch of pages. But it's not hard to duplicate and reduplicate until you have a thousand or more numbered tickets.

David Blatner
David Blatner is the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign and InDesign for QuarkXPress Users, and presents many InDesign titles at He is the editorial director of InDesign Magazine. Over a half a million copies of his books are in print in 13 languages. He has spoken at conferences and workshops around North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, and South Africa. You can find more about David at
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72 Comments on “Making Numbered Tickets

  1. not to pour water on thornton’s printers online solution, but there’s a supercool script i use called indy’s number generator:

    i’ve had to do tons of this lately and found that for the amounts of tickets being done (e.g. 7000 x 10 tickets + cover & mailer) that chuckT’s solution almost 2 years ago is similar to what i use. would be interested to know if others doing similar VDP are using a wholly indesign/excel solution, or if specific VDP software such as XMPie are being used.

  2. wow, what a relief to find these solutions! I had to gang 250 stickers on a single page and number them sequentially (so, page numbering and master page solutions wouldn’t work). The tips for Indd ‘numbered lists’ worked like a charm, even tho I’m in CS5. This was a lifesaver; MANY thanks!

  3. I used the CS3 directions to number 500 tickets both at the top and bottom of each ticket 4 up on a page. This method worked great and really didn’t take very long at all. I dudplicated several spreads at a time to create my 125 pages of tickets ( 4up = a total of 500 numbered tickets). Thanks so much for the help!

  4. What if I need to create 200 vouchers and each has a unique code not in any sort of numeric or alphabetical order. The codes are listed in excel under one column. Is there a way to link the text frame on a master page where the codes should be placed to the excel document to assign one code per voucher?

  5. GREAT tip with lots of uses! Thank you. This will save me hours of work on some tickets I’m designing. However, I also need to set up table tents that have numbers on them. They’re 2-up, and are folded, so each number needs to appear twice on the same page. In short, I want a page with 1/1 and 2/2, and I’m getting 1/2 and 3/4. Am I missing an obvious fix? Thank you.

      • Thanks, David!
        In the example I explained, I was using a list, but did it with un-linked text boxes using “continue from previous number” and “continue numbers across stories.” I’m guessing that there is no way to tell InDesign that even though there are 4 text boxes on the page, that there are two different lists? I’d probably have to just create two threaded stories for that scenario to work.
        Thank you for brining up cross-references! That is a feature I’ve never explored… but I will. They sound a little like TOC’s.
        Thanks again–-I appreciate your expertise!

  6. I would like to number a voucher book, i have place 4 vouchers on a page, the thing is that i want each of these vouchers to start with different number, 100, 200, 300, 400, and then i want to number them 99 times. The problem is that they have to be numbered only 1 per page, so that when i have printed them all i can easily crop them and staple them right up with having to go through it all.

    Does this make sense???


  7. Simply mock up a ticket as a single page with Auto Page Numbering as usual (and any other repeating elements) in the Master Page. Create as many New Pages from that Master as desired.

    Then, when you go to print, click on the “Setup” tab of the Print dialog, then check “Thumbnails” towards the bottom. Select the gang-up layout of the thumbnails from the associated drop-down list. Then print. Voila!!

    I’m not sure which version of InDesign first introduced printing Thumbnails like this, but even if yours doesn’t support that, your printer driver may have a similar feature of its own. Check the printer’s own dialog box by clicking “Setup…” near the bottom left corner of the Print dialog and dismissing the warning, then clicking “Preferences…” in Windows’s Print dialog that comes up (I’m not sure how to access this on Mac OS X, but I’m pretty sure there’s an easy way). For instance, on many HP printers, the feature you want is called “Pages per sheet” and has a drop-down offering 1, 2, 4, 9, or 16 pages per sheet.

  8. When I do the autonumbering, my numbers start at multiples of 11 (ie 0011, 0021,0031)? Any clue how to fix this and just what I might be doing wrong?

  9. I request to direct me how I can use InDesign to use one template of certificate to insert different names quickly like 4000 of them

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