Microsoft Tutorial: Understanding the Ms Word Ribbon

ms word ribbon

Starting with Ms Word 2007 and subsequent versions, Ms Word uses a tabbed Ribbon in place of the traditional menu system. The Ms Word Ribbon contains several tabs properly arranged in switchable menus across the top of the Ms Word window.  If you’ve been using earlier versions of Ms Word, or you are just beginning to use Ms Word, it is important that you study the Ms Word Ribbon properly to enable you to navigate the application with ease.

In this tutorial, I will be looking at the Ms Word Ribbon in detail in order to help you to get familiar with its design and layout; because the ribbon provides you with access to virtually every command you will need to operate the programme.

The Ms Word Ribbon is laid out it switchable tabbed panels; each tab contains several groups of related commands. The tabs are switchable in the sense that clicking on a particular tab displays a complete set of commands different from the previous tab or view.

With the Ms Word Ribbon designed into the recent versions of Microsoft Word starting with the 2007 version, there exists only one menu which is the file menu. The tabs begin with the Home tab, followed by Insert, Page Layout, References, Mailings, Review View and Add-ins. We shall take a brief description of each tab to help you know which tab to switch to when you need to perform a specific function.

Home Tab

ms word ribbon homeThe home tab being the first tab contains the basic commands for formatting a document, this is basically so for ease of operation. When you need commands like; choosing a typeface, font size, bold, italics, copy, cut, paste, bullets, alignment, indentation etc. you don’t need to switch from the home tab.

Insert Tab

ms word ribbon insertWhen you click ‘Insert’ on the Ms Word Ribbon, the menu changes to menus related to insert command. On the insert menu tab that opens, you see every command you need to insert: pages, tables, illustrations, links, header & footer, text and symbols. Note that the commands are grouped into sub-commands, for instance inserting illustrations include: pictures, shapes, clip arts, charts etc. So when you think of anything insertion, just switch to the insert tab.

Page Layout Tab

ms word ribbon pageClicking on ‘Page Layout’ will change the Ms Word Ribbon to page layout menu, and on the page layout menu, you will find all commands related to pages and page manipulation in Ms Word, like Page Themes, Page Setup, Page Background, Paragraph and Page Arrangement.

References Tab

ms word ribbon refrenceClicking ‘References’ on the Ms Word Ribbon will switch the ribbon to references menu tab. On this menu tab, you will find commands related to referencing your document; like the having a table of content in your document, footnotes, citations & bibliography, captions, index and table of authorities.

Mailings Tab

ms word ribbon mailingThe mailing tab contains commands related to mailing a document. On this tab, you will find the create mail, start a mail merge, write & insert fields, preview results and finish commands, all for mailing a document.

Review Tab

ms word ribbon reviewClicking ‘Review’ on the Ms Word Ribbon will switch the ribbon to the Review menu tab. On the review menu tab, you will have access to commands you need to review your document. These commands include; proofing a document, choosing a language, comments, tracking, comparing and protecting a document.

View Tab

ms word ribbon viewClicking ‘View’ will switch the Ms Word ribbon to the view menu tab, and on the view menu tab, you will find commands related to how your document appears on your screen, these includes; document view, showing/hiding some aspect of the Ms Word window like the ruler, guidelines and navigation pane. You can also zoom, split and arrange your window using the view tab as well as show macros.

Add-ins Tab

ms word ribbon addThe last tab on the Ms Word Ribbon is the Add-ins Tab. Clicking on Add-ins will switch the ribbon to the add-ins tab. This tab is for custom toolbars, this implies a user can add his or her own additional command to the Ms Word Ribbon, such added menus or plugins will replace the add-ins menu tab, as in our image above; Grammarly took the place of the add-in tab, because I installed the Grammarly add-on in my Ms Word.

Contextual Tabs

The Ms Word Ribbon also has some tabs which are not static, but contextual in the sense that these tabs are only visible when there is need to use them. i.e when an object related to them is selected. Some examples of the contextual tabs are Picture Tools and Table Tools.

ms word ribbon pictureThe Picture tools appear on the Ms Word Ribbon each time a picture is selected and it bears the commands you need to format the picture. So also is the table tool, which appears only when a table is selected.

ms word ribbon tableGetting More Option from the Ms Word Ribbon

The Commands on the Ms Word Ribbon are grouped into related divisions, and in some cases where you need to set more values in a dialogue box, there is a small triangle or an arrow at the bottom-right corner you should click to reveal the available options.

ms word ribbon arrow

Showing and hiding the Ms Word Ribbon

ms word ribbon show-hideThe Ms Word Ribbon was designed with user experience in mind, hence displaying the ribbon comes with different options. If you are working with a PC with a smaller screen, you may want to maximize the space available for reading on the screen; in this case, you will prefer hiding the Ribbon or displaying a portion of it.

There are three available options on how you can display your Ms Word Ribbon.

  • Auto-hide the Ribbon: this will hide the Ms Word ribbon completely and display your document in full-screen mode. To view the Ribbon, click ‘Expand Ribbon’ at the top of Ms Word window.
  • Show Tabs only: This option removes all command menus from view while displaying only the headings. Clicking on any tab heading will reveal the menus beneath it, and clicking on your document will see the menu disappearing again.
  • Show Tabs and Commands: This option displays the complete Ms Word Ribbon, showing all the tabs and menus. This is the default option for the Ms Word ribbon.

You can also customize your Ms Word Ribbon to suit your need, to learn how you can add custom tabs and additional commands to the Ribbon, read this official guide on Customizing the Office Ribbon.