If you’re producing any kind of numbered items in-house that are multiple-up on a sheet where you need to control all the variables to meet your production needs, the autonumbering feature through numbered lists is the way to go! Just step and repeat away & InDesign will do all the work. No need to fool with a seperate “numbers” file or deal with a data merged document. I think it’s by far the best option for basic numbering.

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.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (92) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Sequentially Numbering Elements in Your Document.
Thank you for your reply.  It reassured me that I was on the right path. From having read other Help texts, I guessed that I would have to use good ole mail-merge and set up a numbers list in Excel. Luckily my knowledge of Excel was good enough to know about the drag&drop for sequential immediate numbering. When it came to the crunch, it was this particular type of mail merge which gave me a bit of initial difficulty. Despite my having used it happily and often in Word, for labels in Publisher, it was - not surprisingly - different in certain respects; principally the crucial point of the Print stage, which necessitated finding the option Publications & Paper Settings, and selecting 2 specific parameters, namely (1) Multiple pages per sheet,  (2) Single-sided printing (my default double printing had appeared). Once I'd sussed this, it was plain sailing.  Thanks again.
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I am using your instructions to create a page of tickets - the design has been created as a picture so I added a text box to "hold" the mail merge instructions but I keep getting the error message "You cannot include DATA, NEXT, NEXTIF, or SKIPIF fields in comments, headers, footers, footnotes or endnotes." I have not included any of these but I'm wondering if it's because I've attempted to insert it in a text box. Is there an easy way to do this? TIA
I think the conclusion of all these Rube Goldberg approaches is that InDesign still isn’t ready for handling what is really a head-smacking-stupid-simple kind of numbering job — the kind of jobs computers were created for in the first place. My DOS word processor XyWrite — from AD 1987! — could do numbering stuff like this in no time and with no trouble. Quite ridiculous, really, when you consider the staggering graphics and typography capabilities inside InDesign — but the poor thing cannot really count.
I have done this twice now, getting flustered. The ticket part the person keeps has the correct sequential number on it, but the side that we keep has the same number on it for the whole page. What part am I missing, at first I did not uncheck the box, but this time I did but have the same number on the stub side that we keep with the person's name, etc
I had wanted to create a file that didn't require Excel as the data source, so I created one using SEQ fields. It was terrible and too huge to mention (thanks Doug Robbins), so I recreated it using Word as the data source so that people who only have Word can use it. You can create up to 5,000 tickets without changing the data file. If you only have Word and need to create more than 5,000 tickets, please don't type the ticket numbers. Just drop me an email and I'll create another data file for you with the required numbers.
Remember that you must update the values in the sheet if you want to continue the numbering series with the next batch of tickets. For instance, if you want your next batch of tickets to start with 112, you'd open the workbook and change the value 100 to 112, and update the remaining values accordingly. Don't forget to save the workbook after updating the values.