How to Customize the Ribbon in Microsoft Office 2010

Customizing the Office Ribbon

Microsoft Office 2010

When Office 2007 first hit the streets, there was quite a bit of controversy over the new ribbon navigational structure that replaced the old drop down menu-driven system. While there are a still a lot of people that continue to lobby for the return of the navigational method found in Office 2003 and older versions of the software suite, it definitely looks like the ribbon is here to stay.

Even those of us who have grown to love the ribbon (yes, I’m in that group) have experienced some degree of frustration with the inability to customize the ribbon in Office 2007. It seems that Microsoft has listened to these complaints, however, since one of the most talked about features in the upcoming Office 2010 application suite is the ability to define custom tabs and personalize the ribbon in other ways. Here, we’ll examine this capability in a little more detail and share some screenshots from the Office 2010 Technical Preview. In particular, we’ll be demonstrating this in Word 2010, but the process is basically the same for any Office application.

Steps for Modifying the Ribbon

To make changes to the ribbon in Office 2010, begin by clicking on the newly redesigned Office button found in the upper left area of the application. (Click on any screenshot in this article to see a larger view of the image.)

Click on the New Office Button

This will access the area known as Backstage View, which is also a new feature in Office 2010.

Office 2010 Backstage View

From here, click on Options as shown in the screenshot above.

When the Word Options screen opens, click on Customize Ribbon from the list shown in the left panel.

The Customize Options Screen

This screen will probably look pretty familiar to Office 2007 users since it’s laid out in the same manner as the Customize screen in Office 2007.

Take particular note of the buttons located in the lower right area of the screen that allow you to add new tabs, add new groups for tabs, and even rename existing tabs.

Adding New Ribbon Tabs in Office 2010

Adding a New Ribbon Tab in Office 2010

We’ll look at a specific example of how to add a new tab to the ribbon in Word 2010. This is a particularly handy feature if you habitually create special types of documents and want all the commands used for that process located in one place.

Step 1: Click on the New Tab button. This will create a new tab with a clever default name of New Tab that can be seen in the tree structure of the Main Tabs list.

Creating a New Ribbon Tab in Office 2010

Step 2: Next, select the newly created tab and click on the Rename button. A small dialog box will pop, and you can enter a more useful name for your customized tab. As an example, we’ll call our new tab Bright Hub.

Rename the New Ribbon Tab

Click OK and you’ll be returned to the Word Options screen and the name of the tab will be updated. Note that you can do the same thing for tab groupings if you like.

Step 3: Make sure that one of the groups on your new tab is selected and then locate the commands you want to add to it from the command list on the left. Once you locate a command that you want to add, select it, and then click on the Add button.

Adding Commands to the New Tab

Continue this process until you’ve added all the commands you want to see on your customized tab.

Step 4: Click on the entry for the new tab again and use the arrows to the right of the tabs listing to select where you want the tab to appear on the ribbon. For example, if you want the new tab to appear first on the Word ribbon, click the up arrow until the tab is first on the list.

Change the Tab Position

Step 5: Click the OK button in the lower right corner to return to the main Word 2010 interface. The newly created tab will now be shown on the Word ribbon.

New Tab Shown on Ribbon

For more information on how to get the most out of Microsoft Office, be sure to take a look at the other items in Bright Hub’s collection of Microsoft Office tips and tricks. New and updated articles are being added all the time, so bookmark us and check back often!