I've scoured the internet and can not seem to find a solution to my specific problem.

I have a list that contains records about documents, with no identifying column per se, but there is a DocNumber that is used to link documents. When adding a new item, I don't allow the user to enter the DocNumber as this must instead be auto-generated (latest DocNumber + 1 would be fine in this case). I'm really struggling to find a way of doing this. I am not able to do CAML/site changes and am looking for a way to do this using the SharePoint site itself or using a workflow. I also cannot use the built-in ID column as the values in the DocNumber column don't match up with the ID column. I need all existing DocNumber values to remain the same. I don't fully understand workflows or how to achieve what I want in SharePoint.

Things I have tried:

  • Creating a "NextDocNumber" column which is "DocNumber + 1", but I don't know how to retrieve this value in a workflow when creating a new list item.
  • Creating a new list called "Counter" to which I manually added the latest DocNumber and was going to create a workflow to increment this by one each time an item is added, but again, I don't actually know how to do this.

In a nutshell, I know what I want to do but have absolutely no idea on how to do it. I'm in desperate need of assistance. I have SharePoint Designer 2013 and a trial version of Visio (which expires in 5 days).


By default, ID column increases in a sequential order, you can find the ID of the previous item based on Current ID, and use ID to get the related column.

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For the Workflow Start Options, set it to "Start workflow Automatically when an item is created ": enter image description here


  • There's a risk you need to consider. If two items are created within seconds and the workflows aren't executed in the same order (Due to delay/response time) this will not work 100%. I cannot tell if that's an actual issue for the user, but something one needs to be aware of. Th delay is even further pronounced in you're working on a cloud based solution and not on prem. – Morten K Nov 3 '17 at 9:13

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