Since Microsoft changed the look and feel of Office 2007 with the ribbon it has worked its way into most applications. We show you how to get the best out of it
When Microsoft launched Office 2007 it did away with the menu bar. In its place came the ‘ribbon’, a tabbed strip of control icons. It represented the biggest change Microsoft had made to Office in years.
While it generated mixed responses, the ribbon has become a core part of Microsoft’s products, including the Windows Live series and Windows 7. We’ll look at how it works and explain how to get the best out of it.
Meet the ribbon bar
The ribbon first appeared in Office 2007 applications – Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access and in some Outlook windows.
By Office 2010 it had extended its presence to additional applications such as Publisher and Onenote. You’ll also find it in various other Microsoft tools, such as the Windows 7 version of Paint.
Although the ribbon works in much the same way across applications – it always uses tabs, buttons, icons and dropdown menus – each program has its own specific tabs that don’t appear elsewhere.
So, for example, only Powerpoint has a Slide Show tab, only Excel has a Formulas tab, while only Word has a References tab. Minor differences like this aside, once you’ve worked out how to use one ribbon, you can use them all.
While the ribbon in Office 2007 can’t be easily customised, there are a couple of things that different users may find helpful. First, although task panes per se have gone, some parts of the ribbon can be opened to reveal ‘floating’ windows, dialogue boxes and other navigational devices.
To do this, just click the little arrow button at the bottom right of each ribbon bar group. For example, in Word 2007, click the Home tab and then find the Paragraph group on the ribbon and click the arrow to open the Paragraph dialogue box.
If you’re using a laptop and need more screen space, try double-clicking any active tab on the ribbon to hide it – then double-click the tab again to bring it back.
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