Using the Ribbon in Excel

What Is a Ribbon in Excel? and When Would I Use It?

Customize the Ribbon Menu using the Customize Ribbon Option in Excel
Customizing the Ribbon Menu in Excel. © Ted French

The Ribbon is the strip of buttons and icons located above the work area that was first introduced with Excel 2007.

The Ribbon replaces the menus and toolbars found in earlier versions of ​Excel.

Above the Ribbon are a number of tabs, such as Home, Insert, and Page Layout. Clicking on a tab are a number of groups that display the commands located in this section of the ribbon.

For example, when Excel opens, the commands under the Home tab are displayed.

These commands are grouped according to their function - such as the Clipboard group which includes the cut, copy, and paste commands and the ​Font group which includes the current font, font size, bold, italic, and underline commands.

One Click Leads to Another

Clicking on a command on the ribbon may lead to further options contained in a Contextual Menu or dialog box that relate specifically to the command chosen.

Collapsing the Ribbon

The Ribbon can be collapsed in order to increase the size of the worksheet visible on the computer screen. Options for collapsing the ribbon are:

  • Double click on one of the ribbon tabs - such as Home, Insert, or Page Layout.
    OR
  • Press the CTRL + F1 keys on the keyboard.

Only the tabs will be left showing above the worksheet.

Expanding the Ribbon

Getting the ribbon back again when you want it can be done by:

  • Clicking on one of the ribbon tabs - such as Home, Insert, or Page Layout to temporarily expand the ribbon.
    OR
  • Pressing the CTRL + F1 keys on the keyboard a second time to permanently expand the ribbon.

Customizing the Ribbon

Since Excel 2010, it has been possible to customize the ribbon using the Customize Ribbon option shown in the image above. Using this option it is possible to:

  • Rename or reorder the default tabs and groups;
  • Display only certain tabs;
  • Add or remove commands to existing tabs;
  • Add custom tabs and custom groups containing frequently used commands.

. What cannot be changed on the ribbon are the default commands which appear in gray text in the Customize Ribbon window. This includes the:

  • Names of the default commands;
  • Icons associated with the default commands;
  • Order of these commands on the ribbon.

Adding Commands to a Default or Custom Tab

All commands on the Ribbon must reside in a group, but the commands in the existing default groups cannot be altered. When adding commands to the Ribbon, a custom group must first be created. Custom groups can also be added to a new, custom tab.

To make it easier to keep track of any custom tabs or groups added to the Ribbon, the word Custom is attached to their names in the Customize Ribbon window. This identifier does not appear in the ribbon.

Opening the Customize Ribbon Window

To open the Customize Ribbon window:

  1. Click on the File tab of the Ribbon to open the drop down menu
  2. In the File menu, click on Options to open the Excel Options dialog box
  3. In the left-hand pane of the dialog box, click on Customize Ribbon option to open the Customize Ribbon window