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.
@Aaron: I am stuck exactly with the same problem. I am constructing a style guide document, and thus my content is mainly images, not text. Still I do need numbered chapters in multiple levels, but the automatic numbering seems to be almost impossible as my headings are in separate text boxes. I have tried linking heading text areas, section markers, numbered lists and whatnot, but I am about to revert back to manual numbering instead of battling with this and wasting time! It’s just so devastating, I believe that machines should do what they do best, instead of people keeping track of numbering chapters!

- [Voiceover] If you're creating a multi-page document, there may be a need to use page numbering or create a master layer. Now, page numbering is fairly straightforward, but master layering may need a bit of an explanation. A master layer is a layer that will be displayed on all pages. What this means is that if I was to create a master layer, whatever I put on that layer will appear on all pages. I perfect an example of this is if I was creating a layout for a financial report and wanted a company logo to be on all pages, then I'd put it on a master layer. From my Object Manager, I'm going to left click on this black triangle, and then I'm going to select New Master Layer all pages. Now, if I go over to my tool box, I'm going to grab my rectangle tool. I'm gonna left click and drag. I'll create a small rectangle here. I'm going to give that a solid color, and let's just do another object here as well, and I'll give that a slight bit different color. So we can pretend this is…
Changing the numbering display affects how pages are indicated in the InDesign document, as in the Pages panel and in the page box at the bottom of a document window. The numbering display also affects how you specify page ranges when printing and exporting the document. However, the numbering display does not change the appearance of page numbers on document pages. numbering in indesign
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