Home : Software Terms : Ribbon Definition


The ribbon is a user interface element created by Microsoft, which was introduced with Microsoft Office 2007. It is part of the "Microsoft Office Fluent" interface and combines the menu bar and toolbar into a single floating pane. By default, the ribbon is located at the top of the screen in Office applications, such as Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook.

The purpose of the ribbon is to provide quick access to commonly used tasks within each program. Therefore, the ribbon is customized for each application and contains commands specific to the program. Additionally, the top of the ribbon includes several tabs that are used to reveal different groups of commands. For example, the Microsoft Word ribbon includes Home, Insert, Page Layout, References, and other tabs that each display a different set of commands when selected.

Since the ribbon contains both the program's menu options and toolbar commands, it cannot be removed from the screen. However, it can be minimized to free up more screen real estate for the primary document window. To minimize the ribbon, you can either click the upside down eject icon at the top of the ribbon or use the keyboard shortcut Control+F1. Once the ribbon has been minimized, it can be restored by clicking the same icon or using the same keyboard shortcut.

The ribbon is the primary user interface (UI) element in both Office 2007 and Office 2010. Office 2011 for Mac includes also includes the ribbon, but has a slightly different layout. Additionally, other software companies can license the Microsoft Office UI, allowing them to include a custom ribbon in their programs. For example, Autodesk AutoCAD 2009 and later includes the ribbon at the top of the primary program window.

Updated: January 11, 2012

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