How to Use the Ribbon

This Microsoft Word 2007 tutorial is for you if you can’t figure out how to use the Office ribbon.

The Ribbon
The Word 2007 ribbon: you can work faster once you know how to use the ribbon.

This is Part 2 of the Ribbon Series:

If you missed the introduction and Part 1, take a few minutes to go back and review before you start the Word 2007 tutorial.

How to use the Word 2007 ribbon

Don’t try to learn the new interface while under pressure to finish a business report or term paper. Like anything else, it takes practice to become skilled at using the ribbon.

Open the program and practice as you go through the Word 2007 tutorial.

NOTE: If you missed Part 1 of this series or have forgotten the material, you may need to keep that page open to refer to it. Click the link to open Parts of the Office Ribbon. Keep that page open while you work through the tutorial.

Some of this material in this tutorial is covered in detail on other pages. Follow the links for more information. All links open in a new window so you don’t lose your place in the tutorial.

Showing and hiding the ribbon

If you work on a laptop, you may want to hide the ribbon to make more room in the document workspace. The ribbon can be hidden and restored with a click.

Opening the Office menu

Office Button
The Office button

Click the Office button to access the Office menu. The menu contains the most common file related tasks such as Open, Save, Printing, and more.

For advanced file options, while the Office menu is open, click the Word Options button. Most Word preference settings are located on the Word Options menu.

Using The Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar works like toolbars in other programs. Just click a button to perform the desired command. This toolbar is customizable.

Opening tabs and locating button groups

Click a tab to open it. The active tab is highlighted.

Each tab contains specific groups. Tabs and groups are logically organized by word processing task.

The Review tab on the ribbon
The Review tab on the ribbon

For instance, if you are finished writing a report and want to perform a spell check, click the Review tab. Some of the document review tasks grouped under this tab are:

  • Proofreading
  • Adding comments
  • Tracking changes
  • Comparing documents
  • Adding or removing document protection

If you use Word 2007 regularly, it won’t take long to remember what groups are located under each tab. Bookmark this tutorial (Ctrl + D) so you can refer to it.

Tip: Would you like more help finding Microsoft Word 2003 menu items? Download the Microsoft Office Interactive Word 2003 to 2007 Command Reference Guide.

Launching task panes, galleries, and dialog boxes

Windows such as task panes, galleries, and dialog boxes are launched from the ribbon by clicking buttons (the ribbon icons), button arrows,

Task pane Options button location
The Task pane Options button

More buttons, and dialog box launchers dialog box launcher icon. For button descriptions, refer to the Parts of the Office 2007 Ribbon tutorial.

Dialog boxes and galleries close after making a selection or clicking OK. Task panes, such as the Styles Pane shown below, stay open and can be resized and moved by clicking the Task Pane Options button.

To close a task pane, click the close (X) button.

Using Live Preview

When formatting your document, highlight the text then hover over a style button in an open gallery to see how the changes will look. If you don’t like what you see in the preview, hover your mouse over the next selection.

To select the style you are previewing, click the button.

This works with fonts, styles and style sets, themes, lists, and more. This feature saves a lot of time undoing changes you don’t like.

Opening and closing contextual tabs

Header & Footer contextual tab
Header & Footer contextual tab

Contextual tabs are easy to recognize because they are different colors. The only way to open a contextual tab is to select the corresponding item.

For example, to open the Header & Footer Tools Design contextual tab, double-click inside the header or footer area of your document.

To close a contextual tab, click the Close button. If the tab doesn’t have a close button, deselect the object by double-clicking somewhere inside the main document area.

Beyond the basics

This Word 2007 tutorial may seem very basic to you.

But that is the beauty of the ribbon! It is easy to use AND to master…all it takes is practice.

Don’t be afraid to explore, not only the ribbon, but the entire Microsoft Word workspace. Click, double-click, or right-click on everything. This is a great way to discover all kinds of tools and features in this powerful program.

In the next part of the tutorial series, I’ll show you how to customize the ribbon.

Go to Part 3 of the Ribbon Series: Customizing the Office Ribbon »