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Item Numbers in Quotations

This is going to be a short blog, but we come across this issue quite a lot.


Everyone knows it, this thing that appears on documents as naturally as clouds in the sky – the item number.

It exists in different forms, for example, by simple counting up in increments, but also in the form of numerical structures, where the paragraph has the number 1 and the sub-items are labeled as 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc.

But now comes the surprise: If you print a document in Odoo, regardless of which template you select, you will NOT find any numbering of items!

The short answer is: You use the product number instead.

Odoo thus shows once again that many familiar things are not really needed, provided you are prepared to re-think (see also the lack of separation between first and last names).

If you are interested in a longer explanation, please read on.

Are there really no item numbers in Odoo?

If you look closely, you will find a technical reference in Odoo to the existence of an item number in the export. If you open an export of quotations, look in the list of fields, and click on the list of items there (order lines), you will find the following:

The sequence is required to manage the order of the listed items. If you export these, you will see the following window:


There is one restriction, however. This field is not only used to display the sorting. Each item also has a unique data record ID. If you create a new item, the default value of the sequence is 10, and the data record ID is incremented in ascending order. The standard sorting is based on sequence and data record numbering. This means that the order in which the items are created is decisive.

If you now intervene manually, as we did before in the export above, the sequence changes by running through the individual lines and counting up from the value 10, thus setting the sequence.

In other words, Odoo uses the sequence internally to offer sorting and to know the order of the positions in the display.

Can we use this behavior?

Of course, you could use this mechanism for yourself (provided you have the necessary programming skills). You would need to integrate a query into the document asking whether there is a manual sorting. The additional column for the position would then display the sequence minus the value 9 in the case of manual sorting. Otherwise, the column will show the database ID minus its initial value +1. In both cases, the system would count upwards from 1.

Example 1 (Accessing the sequence):

After sorting, Odoo starts counting up from 10. In other words, the first position is 10, the second is 11, the third is 12, and so on. If we subtract the 9, we get 1, 2, 3, etc.

Example 2 (Using the database ID):

If the database ID of the first position starts with the value x, for example, we then get x+1 and x+2. Accordingly, the first position number would have to be generated as follows: x-x+1, the second x-x+2.

But honestly, is this really worth the effort? After all, this entails an adjustment within the system that cannot be realized with Odoo Studio. It also means that the requirement cannot be solved without a developer or third-party module from the App Store.

A legitimate question should be, why is such a common function missing? Odoo has been around for over 20 years, so why has the manufacturer never considered integrating such a function?

What, then, is the resolution?

The fact that no one has implemented something so apparent for years may be an indication that it is not actually necessary, but it is not yet an answer:

The question, therefore, is, what purpose do item numbers have?

  1. Clarity: to understand what belongs together.

  2. Clear identification: each item is given a unique number that makes it easy to refer to a specific item, thus avoiding misunderstandings and errors in communication.

  3. Faster search and reference: with numbered items, you can quickly find the information you need and refer to the corresponding items in a quotation or invoice.

  4. Efficient communication: in business discussions and negotiations, it is easier to refer to an item by its number, making communication between business partners more efficient.

Let’s take a closer look at the individual points:

For a better overview and to understand what belongs together, Odoo offers a generation of sections. This allows items to be summarized and titled. In addition, a subtotal is calculated and displayed for each section in the document.

Note: Quotation templates may even provide sellers with quotation structures.

Regarding points 2-4, let’s look at how Odoo generates a product description for each item. The following three fields in the product creation are crucial.

We find the first two directly on the first page as the ”internal reference“ and the product name. In other systems, they are labeled as a short description (name).

The 3rd field, the sales description, may be found in the “Sales” tab.

The position is automatically generated from these three fields. For the product shown, this will look as follows:

This means the item text is automatically generated from the product number (internal reference), the product name, and the sales description.

Ultimately, we can say that requirements 2-3 are about providing the external contact and the employee with a means of synchronization so that the line can be identified and communication can take place accordingly.

In detail, it means that the customer sees a paper or PDF on the screen and is able to name an item for which they would like an exchange. By naming the item number in question, the contact person is able to find this line more quickly.

In Odoo, the product number is used for this kind of exchange. In other words, the internal reference is given in the email or phone call.

And what is the best way to find it?

In this case, you can use all the tools available. Here, it is the browser. By pressing CTRL + F, you can open the browser search and type in the product number. This will automatically take you to the relevant position.

This way, synchronization, identification, and communication between both parties is possible, and a clear level of exchange is created.


This approach has two additional advantages over the classic approach of item numbers:

1) Anyone looking at the list of quotations or orders may also enter the item number here and search directly for transactions in which the corresponding item appears:

A search for item numbers would be rather pointless.

2) Clarity across the document chain

Another advantage is the clarity across the document chain since the item text continues and is thus transferred from the order to the delivery note and the invoice.

In the case of a partial delivery or partial invoicing, this uniqueness would not exist, as the relationship between the item number and the product would only arise in the case of a 1:1 delivery and billing.


Odoo does not use item numbers. Using the product number for this purpose offers significantly more advantages than the classic variant.

However, it must be said that the approach using product numbers will rapidly reach its limits when it comes to construction specifications, project calculations, or extensive service reviews. However, there are other topics, requirements, and solution options in this context that will be discussed in a separate blog at a later date.

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openfellas GmbH acquires majority stake in Odoo Gold partner axxelia GmbH in Freiburg
Press release: Munich, November 06, 2023