Customizing the Office 2010 Ribbon

December 22, 2010, By Christian Cawley

The Microsoft Office 2010 series of applications is unified by the remarkable “ribbon” – the thick toolbar in each application that provides you with a set of regularly used functions while the less commonly used options are hidden aware.

By default the ribbon will have a selection of tools on each tab, but these can be edited and changed, and you can even create a new ribbon tab to add your own preferred tools to. You might also choose to take advantage of the flexibility of the Quick Access toolbar (the small selection of buttons above the ribbon) and add function buttons to this.

These steps can apply to all Microsoft Office 2010 applications, although for simplicity and illustrative purposes we will use Microsoft Word 2010 as an example.

How to customize the Office 2010 application ribbon

A  Menu in Three Parts

The Word 2010 toolbar menu has three components. From the top there is the Quick Access Toolbar, which be default has a save button, undo button and a drop down menu. This is the modern equivalent of the user’s own custom toolbar in Word 97-2003, with the main difference being that you can’t move it around the screen. You can add any tool or feature to the Quick Access Toolbar, however, by right-clicking the button for that feature and selecting Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

If you plan on using this toolbar a lot, you can right-click on it and open the Customize Quick Access Toolbar… dialog, also available in File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar. Here you can add any command or macro to the Quick Access Toolbar for your current or all documents.

Second is the Ribbon itself, which is in two parts: first is the tab headings, and second is the main ribbon where formatting and application-specific tools are accessed. These are listed here separately as there is a means of distinguishing between the tabs and the ribbon – by right-clicking on the ribbon you can select Minimize the ribbon which affords more space at the top of the screen. This feature is also available by double clicking the tab.

Customizing the Ribbon

The Microsoft Office 2010 Ribbon features tools that you will use often in a prominent position, with more advanced features available by clicking the small arrows in each menu section.

If you want to change how the Ribbon looks, you can do this by right-clicking on it and opening the Customize the Ribbon… dialog, which you might also find in File > Options > Customize the Ribbon….

This might seem initially confusing. What you have on the left is a selection of commands; the Choose commands from: drop-down menu determines where the commands that you add might come from (various tab menus, macros, etc.) and when selected these can be sent to or removed from (using Add and Remove) your intended tab in the Customize the Ribbon menu. Note that you can create a New Tab or a New Group within a tab (for instance in Word the Home tab features the Font and Paragraph groups) and tabs and groups can be re-arranged as you see fit.

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