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Understanding & Using the Ribbon Tutorial

Free Online Microsoft Word Tutorials
MS Word 2010 - Getting Started

* How the Ribbon is Organized
* How Tabs are Organized
* Working with Groups on the Ribbon
* Hiding the Ribbon



The Ribbon replaces the old Menu system. Learn how the tabs are organized into groups, how to open the group dialog box and how to hide the ribbon. In this tutorial we will examine how the Ribbon is organized and whether there is any clear pattern or order behind it and how to quickly find options and functions you need to work with.

Test your MS Word skills with the corresponding FREE Online Multiple Choice
Understanding and Using the Ribbon Test


* How the Ribbon is Organized

When you first saw the Ribbon, you may have thought it appears to be a chaotic collection of buttons, colors and words with no clear pattern or thought given to its lay-out. If you were used to the old menu system present in Office applications prior to 2007, you may even be frustrated at the perceived lack of order compared to older versions of Word.

However, the Ribbon is very carefully organized and understanding this order will assist you in finding just about any function even if you have never used it before. It might make it easier for you to view the Ribbon as a typical company hierarchy where the Ribbon is the CEO, the tabs are the department heads and under each department head, you have workgroups with individuals as in the groups and functions located in each group.

1. Study the image of a section of the Ribbon circled in yellow in the image below:

How the Ribbon is Organized - Microsoft Word Tutorial


2. You will note it consists of 8-9 (or more!) tabs at the top.
These are labelled: File, Home, Insert, Page Layout, References, Mailings, Review and View. Depending on your version of Word, there may be further tabs, for example a Developer Tab or other customized tabs.

3. Each of these tabs open up a separate section of the Ribbon, similar to how tabs in a lever arch file will open up different sections of the same file.

4. Each section is divided into Groups. For example, under the Home Tab you will find the Clipboard, Font, Paragraph, Styles and Editing groups (as pictured in the image above).

5. Finally, each group contains a collection of functions that are visible either as words or icons. These functions relate directly to the group to which they are assigned.



* How Tabs are Organized

The tabs, as already mentioned, may be considered the department heads of the 'organization' and each tab 'manages' groups with individual functions. When the designers of Word decided on the order in which the tabs should appear on the Ribbon, their idea was to place the tabs in the order in which a user would logically need to use the groups of functions associated with them.


Open a Word document and study the order in which the tabs appear:

1. The first tab, the Home Tab, contains all the essential functions for creating a document, formatting the font, changing or using styles, the clipboard and copy paste functions for adding content and paragraph options for changing how your document will be formatted:

How Tabs are Organized - Microsoft Word Tutorial


2. The second tab is the Insert Tab.
After you have formatted your text using functions found under the Home Tab, it is believed the next logical step would be to insert elements into your document. Imagine anything you can insert into a document, for example, tables, graphics, headers, footers, symbols, etc:

The Insert Tab - Microsoft Word Tutorial


3. The third tab is the Page Layout Tab.
After you have formatted your text and inserted elements such as tables or pictures, it is believed you may want to alter the page size, orientation or add background color to the page to match the theme of your document:

The Page Layout Tab - - Microsoft Word Tutorial


4. The fourth tab, called the References Tab,
will be useful if you are creating a contract or dissertation or any type of document to which you would like to add automatic references such as index, table of contents, cross referencing, citations or bibliographies and footnotes:

The References Tab - Microsoft Word Tutorial

5. The next tab is the Mailings Tab. This is a less often used tab as it pertains specifically to printing envelopes, labels and performing mail merges. You will use this tab if you, for example, wish to send personalized copies of your document to hundreds of readers or to print mailing labels or envelopes:

The Mailings Tab - Microsoft Word Tutorial





6. Before you press send though, move on to the second last tab, the Review Tab, and be sure to do a review of your document using tools such as the spell checker. You may also want to add comments, add restrictions to the document so that no one can make changes or enable track changes, so that all changes made will be discernable:

The Review Tab - Microsoft Word Tutorial

7. Lastly, but not to be forgotten, is the View Tab. Use the View Tab to change how your document is displayed on the screen and to get a better idea of what it will look like printed in the Print Layout View or view which styles are used in the document by changing to the Outline or Draft View. You can also use the Zoom view to get a close up view of elements in your document:

The View Tab - Microsoft Word Tutorial

There are also tabs called contextual tabs. These appear only in the context of specific types of content and the content has to be selected or your cursor positioned within the content, for these tabs to appear. There are contextual tabs for just about every element you can insert into a Word document, for example tables, images, headers and footers, shapes and many more.

You can identify the contextual tabs in that they will appear or disappear as soon as you move away from the element and they are also usually brightly colored. Below is an example of the contextual tabs for a table. See if you are able to discern these tabs from other tabs on the Ribbon:

Contextual Tabs - - Microsoft Word Tutorial



* Working with Groups on the Ribbon

As you worked your way through the different tabs and functions associated with each in the section above, you will have noticed how functions associated with each tab is grouped together. Each group has a name that best describes the functions contained in that specific group.

Some items in a group represent a single function, for example, the bold button in the Font Group (under the Home Tab). Some items in a group provide you with more options to choose from, for example the Shapes button in the Illustrations Group (under the Insert Tab). You are usually able to tell if more options are associated with a single function by looking out for a tiny down-pointing arrow either below or to the right of the function's button.

Groups are discernable from each other by a vertical borderline and the name of the Group, which appears centered at the bottom of the group of function icons associated with the group.

Open Word and identify group names and separators as circled in yellow in the example below:

Working with Groups on the Ribbon - Microsoft Word Tutorial


Looking at the group names and the names of the functions contained in each group under each tab, are you able to make an association between these? For example, in the screenshot above, in the Illustrations Group, functions such as Picture, Clip Art, Shapes, SmartArt, etc are grouped together as these all related to graphical elements you can insert into a document.

To get a better idea of what the function of an individual button is in a group on the Ribbon, hover your mouse over the button for a couple of seconds until an information box or screen tip appears. This will give you a brief explanation of what the function of a specific button is as per the example circled in yellow in the image below:

The Ribbon - Microsoft Word Tutorial

If you are unable to find what you are looking for amongst the icons contained in a group, some groups offer further options in the form of a dialogue box. To access such a dialogue box, study the right-hand bottom corner of the relevant group. If there is a tiny diagonal arrow, you can click this to launch a dialogue box. It is aptly, although somewhat uncreatively called, a dialogue box launcher.

Study the example below and then review the Ribbon in an open Word screen noting which groups have dialogue box launchers:

Minimize the Ribbon - Microsoft Word Tutorial



* Hiding the Ribbon

As much as the Ribbon is your best friend, it can also take up a lot of screen real estate and the multicolor organization of buttons on it, could interfere with your ability to get a clear idea of what your document formatting really looks like.

The kind creators of Word have graciously added functionality to the Ribbon that allows you to quickly hide and redisplay it.

The first option is to use the 'Minimize the Ribbon' button (circled in yellow in the image below) located at the top right-hand corner of the screen below the window minimize/maximize/close buttons. Click the icon once to hide the ribbon.

'Minimize the Ribbon' button - Microsoft Word Tutorial


Another way of hiding the Ribbon
is to right click anywhere on the Ribbon and select 'Minimize the Ribbon'.

Even with the Ribbon minimized you can continue accessing all the groups and functions by clicking on the relevant tab. This will redisplay the Ribbon, but immediately hide it again after you make your selection or click back into your document.

When your Ribbon is minimized, the screen display will look like this:

When your Ribbon is minimized, the screen display will look like this - - Microsoft Word Tutorial


To redisplay the Ribbon in all of its multicolored glory,
either click on the expand the Ribbon button (circled in yellow in the image above) or right click on any of the tabs and click on 'Minimize the Ribbon' again to deselect it.

For all the shortcut groupies out there, you can hide and display the Ribbon by holding down the Control key on your keyboard and pressing the F1 key.

 

Test your MS Word skills with the corresponding FREE Online Multiple Choice
Understanding and Using the Ribbon Test


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