A Closer Look at the Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbon
Now that the familiar drop-down menus made so popular by Microsoft have been removed from the MS Office line of software, users are forced to adapt to the new Ribbon which some find more useful than the old menu system. Figure 1 is a screenshot from Microsoft Word 2007 showing part of the new Ribbon system. Notice that many of the functions familiar to users of older versions of Word look very similar. Font, font size, bold, underline, italic and other functions work much as they did in previous version of Word.
Notice that at the top of Figure 1, users may change the Ribbon’s content by clicking on Home, Insert, Page Layout, etc. These are not drop down menus but groupings of Word functions that change depending on which selection is active. The Home Ribbon contains the most common functions such as font and paragraph options, style settings, cut/copy/paste options, and about 85% of the most common Word functions. The Insert group contains anything a user might insert into a Word document. These include tables, pictures, shapes, symbols, hyperlinks, and clip art. Like the Insert Ribbon, the remainder of the Ribbons contains those functions a user would reasonably expect to find under their respective titles.
Other MS Office software titles such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Access have similar Ribbons with functions specific to those particular software packages. For example, instead of References as found in Word 2007 (see Figure 1), Excel 2007 has a Formulas Ribbon. Instead of Mailings found in Word, Excel sports a Data Ribbon. One popular MS Office title was spared the move from drop-down menus to the Ribbon. Users of MS Publisher 2007 will find that the program operates just as it did in previous versions. There is no official word from Microsoft as to why Publisher 2007 does not use the Ribbon. Some have surmised that Microsoft focused its attention on positioning the Ribbon in its most popular software titles of which Publisher is not one. Whether the Ribbon will be integrated into all Microsoft Office titles in the future can only be answered as new versions of Office are released.