The Parts of the Microsoft Office Ribbon

The Home tab on the ribbon
The Microsoft Office Ribbon: Huh? What are all of these buttons?

The Microsoft Office ribbon is a completely new interface…not only a new look, but new terminology, too.

This part of the series will familiarize you with the names of the parts of the ribbon.

This is Part 1 of the ribbon series. If you missed the short introduction, follow the link below to get caught up.

Let’s get started!

The power of the Microsoft Office Ribbon

You may not realize the hidden power of the ribbon bar—all of those toolbar icons open up windows such as menus, dialog boxes, and task panes.

The paragraph dialog box
The Word 2007 Paragraph Dialog Box: Look familiar? If you have used Word before, it should! This 2007 dialog box looks just like the 2003 version.

Many of these windows are literally unchanged from Microsoft Word 2003. So once you open them, you should be in familiar territory if you have used Word before.

The Microsoft Office interface is very similar from program to program. The tabs and groups are different depending on what program you are using, however the way you use the ribbon is identical. So once you learn the ribbon in Microsoft Word, it will be easier to learn it in the other Office programs.

The parts of the Microsoft Office Ribbon

It’s time to get familiar with the Microsoft Office interface!

Elements always visible in the Office Ribbon

For a discussion about each element, refer to the numbered descriptions.

Annotated image of left side of Ribbon

  1. Office Button: the Office button hides the Office menu and Word options menu. Click this button to find the open, save, print, and other menu items.
  2. Quick Access Toolbar: the Quick Access Toolbar is a customizable toolbar that shows either above or below the ribbon. It is always in view even when the ribbon is minimized.
  3. Tabs: the Office ribbon is organized into tabs according to task. Tabs always in view include Home, Insert, Page Layout, References, Mailings, Review, and View. The Add-Ins tab is visible when you have add-ins installed. Showing the Developer tab in the ribbon is optional—the tab must be added manually, but once it is added, it is always in view in all Office programs that use the ribbon.
  4. Groups: each tab is divided into logical groups of buttons. The most popular buttons show in the ribbon. Some groups have additional options that are accessed by clicking a launcher.
  5. Dialog Box Launcher: clicking the launcher icon dialog box launcher icon opens dialog boxes and task panes.

Annotated image of right-side of Ribbon

  1. Gallery: galleries contain preset formatting options for tables, WordArt, charts, SmartArt, and more.
  2. More Buttons and Arrows: More buttons expand galleries. Plain arrows (such as the one shown on the Change Styles button) open galleries or submenus.
  3. Collapsed Group: groups expand and collapse when the document window is resized. A partially collapsed group may display the buttons in a different layout, or a reduced number of items. A fully collapsed group only shows the group name with an arrow button that opens the group submenu.
  4. Help Button: the Help button links to the embedded Word 2007 help files.
  5. Program Window Controls: the window controls work the same as other Microsoft Windows-based program. Clicking the minimize button (-) minimizes the program to the taskbar; the maximize button toggles between full-screen and reduced-size views; and clicking the X button exits the program.

Elements not always visible in the Office Ribbon

Picture Tools contextual tab

  • Contextual Tabs: these colored formatting tabs appear on the ribbon when certain items, such as pictures, are selected. They disappear when the item is deselected.
  • Galleries: the only gallery that is always in view is the Style gallery. Other galleries appear in Contextual tabs when certain items are selected, such as tables or WordArt, or when arrow buttons are clicked.
  • Task Panes and Dialog Boxes: task panes and dialog boxes appear when certain buttons or the dialog box launcher inside a group is clicked.

Now that you know the parts of the Microsoft Office ribbon, it’s time to find out how to use them…

Go to Part 2 of the Ribbon Series: Microsoft Word 2007 Ribbon Tutorial »