Word 2010 – The Ribbon

Microsoft Office 2010 has been established for some time and it is now considered an desktop application with more “role-based” feature than previous versions. It is a productivity suite for Microsoft Windows user and a successor of Microsoft Office 2007. Its features are tailored to employees in roles such as research and development professionals, sales people, and human resources practitioners.

One of the major features of Microsoft Office 2010 includes the Ribbon. The Ribbon was introduced as part of the Microsoft Fluent user interface in the 2007 Microsoft Office release. With Office 2010, it is now included in all of the Office desktop applications.

What is the Ribbon?

Microsoft declares the ribbon as “the modern way to help users find, understand, and use commands efficiently and directly – with a minimum number of clicks, with less need to resort to trial-and-error, and without having to refer to Help.”

The ribbon is formed as a fixed-size panel that houses buttons and icons for the commonly used commands. The commands are organized as a set of tabs. Within each tab, various related options are grouped together. Each Microsoft office 2010 application (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OutLook, Access, SharePoint and OneNote) has a different set of tabs which house the options for that specific application.


The ribbon provides a highly visual way to see different features grouped into logical categories on individual tabs. The tabs are made up of groups of commands and galleries of graphically represented icons. Core tabs, such as File, Home and View are always displayed.

Contextual Tabs

When you are working on special elements such as graphic or table in a document, a new tab, also known as Contextual tab, appear on the Ribbon. The Contextual tab consists of special editing tools for editing objects such as table and pictures. The Contextual tab appear on the Ribbon when these objects are selected in the Word document.

Dialog Box Launchers

A Dialog Box Launcher is a small icon that appears at the bottom right corner of group in a tab. When the Dialog Box Launcher is clicked on, it launches a dialog box that provides more options, besides the one displayed on the Ribbon, related to the group.


Tooltips provides information on what a command on the Ribbon does. It also provides information on any shortcut key that might be available for the performing the operation. To see a tooltip, simply move and hold the mouse pointer over any of command on the Ribbon. Windows will pop-up with information about the command and it usage.


The question mark symbol at the top right of the ribbon open up a Word Help Window, where you can type your query related any aspect of Office 2010.


Every command on the Ribbon has a ALT Key. To see a ALT Key for a command on the Ribbon, press ALT key. For example, the ALT for the Home tab is Alt H. To View the ALT key for a command, simply press the ALT Key. This will display the ALT Character for the commands on the Ribbon. To close that dialog box, you just press Esc.


If you think the ribbon takes up too much space, you can hide it, so that, the only part of the Ribbon that is visible are the tabs. You can use either of the following method to hide the ribbon:

  • Double click any tab (except File) on the Ribbon and the ribbon will disappear. Double click the any tab (except File) once again and the ribbon re-appears.
  • Single click the up arrow icon on the top right corner of the word application and the ribbon with disappear. The up arrow icon will be replace the down arrow . Click the down arrow for the ribbon to re-appear.

How to Customize the Ribbon?

In Microsoft Word 2010, using Options in Backstage view, you can customize the application to meet corporate requirements or personalize it to meet your needs, so that the features you use the most are only just a click or two away For example, you can create custom tabs and groups to contain your frequently used commands.

To add a custom tab to your Ribbon, follow the steps given below:

  1. While in Microsoft Word 2010, click the File tab (Backstage view) then click Options.
  2. Click Customize Ribbon. In the list, click Main Tabs.
  3. Under Main Tabs, click Home (do not clear the Home check box).
  4. Click on the New Tab button at the bottom of Main Tabs Window.
  5. This will create a new tab in called New Tab (Custom) & New Group (Custom). Right click on New Tab (Custom) and select Rename from the drop down menu. Rename New Tab to MyTab.
  6. To view the newly created Tab (myTab) on the Ribbon, click OK.
  7. You should now see the new Tab (myTab) on the Ribbon.
  8. Right click on New Group (Custom) and select Rename from the group down menu to rename the newly created group to myGroup.
  9. To add Tools to the group, in the Choose Commands From drop down list, select All Commands.
  10. Select Shapes from the left window and then click Add>> button to add the tool to the myGroup.
  11. Click OK to close the Options dialog box.
  12. Click the mytab to see the new group (myGroup) and tool (shapes) you just added to the custom group.
  13. Click Shapes tool to draw a shape in your document.

To help differentiate the standard tabs from customized tab, Microsoft has added the word “(Custom)” next to the customized group.

The commands associated with the standard tab and group cannot be changed, where as the, Custom group or tab created by a user for customizing their Ribbon can be modified or deleted by a user.

Once you have customized your Ribbon, you can easily export and import the customized ribbons to help you become more productive. To export a customized ribbon into a file that can be imported and used by a co-worker on another computer, follow the steps given below:

  1. While in Microsoft Word 2010, click the File tab (Backstage view) then click Options.
  2. Click Customize Ribbon. In the list, click Main Tabs.
  3. In the Customized the Ribbon window, click Import/Export button.
  4. From the dropdown menu, select Export All Customizations.
  5. Specify the filename and the location where to save the exported file.

To import the customized Ribbon from an exported file with Ribbon information, follow the steps given below:

  1. In the Customized the Ribbon window, click Import/Export button.
  2. From the dropdown menu, select Import Customization file.
  3. Type the location and the filename to import the information for customized Ribbon.
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