Customize The Ribbon In Word

The ribbon in Microsoft Word 2010 may look the same as the one in Word 2007, but there is one important difference. You can customize the ribbon in Word 2010!

Customizing The Ribbon

In Word 2010 you can do the following to customize the ribbon:

  • Change the order that tabs appear
  • Change the order that groups appear within tabs
  • Create new tabs
  • Create new groups within a particular tab

Let’s get to grips with this new flexibility by customizing the ribbon now. Click the Office Button > Word > Options > Customize Ribbon. The current configuration of your ribbon is displayed on the right of the window. On the left are displayed possible additions you can make to those tabs. These additions include commands and macros.

Let’s focus on the tabs to the right of the window. Intuitively, you would expect to be able to drag and drop tabs and groups to change their relative positions, and indeed you do have this facility. Suppose that you’d prefer the References tab to appear immediately after the Add-Ins tab. To do this click and drag the References tab downwards and when the selection line is directly below the Add-Ins tab, release the mouse. When you click the OK button at the bottom, you will see the tabs resequenced in the ribbon. Similarly, you can drag and drop groups within tabs to resequence those too.

If you don’t like dragging and dropping, instead you can select a tab or group and then click the Move Up or Move Down arrowed buttons to the far right. This will move the tab or group up or down by one position.

Creating A New Group In A Tab

If you think a particular tab could do with the addition of a new group, select that tab in the Customize Ribbon window or select a group within that tab and then click New Group. A new group is added in a position that depends on what you selected. If you selected the tab the new group is positioned at the end of all the other groups, whereas if you selected a group the new one is positioned immediately after that.

When you create a new group in this way, it is given the default name of “New Group (Custom)”. To give it a meaningful name, select it and then click Rename. Type in its name and then click OK.


You can remove groups from the tab at any time by selecting them and then clicking Remove. The Remove button is situated between the Commands pane and the tabs pane.

Adding Commands To A Group

A new group doesn’t help us much unless it contains some commands. If you click on the ‘+’ button to the left of an existing group it will expand to display the commands that are in that group. We can add commands to groups using the command list in the left hand pane. Select the group you created earlier and then select a command from the command list. When you click Add the command will be added to the group. If you add a command while a command in the group is selected, it will be added just below the selected command. On the other hand, adding commands while the group is selected positions them at the end.

The command list can be filtered using the drop down list at the top to display:

  • Popular Commands
  • Commands Not in the Ribbon
  • All Commands
  • Macros
  • Office Menu
  • All Tabs
  • Main Tabs
  • Tool Tabs
  • Custom Tabs and Groups

Creating New Tabs

If you feel the need to create a new tab with all your favourite commands collected in the same place, select an existing tab and then click New Tab. The new tab will be positioned immediately after the tab you selected and it will contain a new group. The tab is given the default name of “New Tab (Custom)” and the group is named “New Group (Custom)”. You can rename both using the Rename button at the bottom of the window.

If you want to remove a tab, select it and click Remove. This removes the tab itself and all groups within it.

Restoring The Ribbon’s Defaults

Don’t worry if you accidentally cause untold damage to the ribbon. You can easily reset the ribbon configuration by clicking the Restore Defaults button at the bottom of the window. Doing so gives you the option of restoring only the settings for the selected tab or for the whole ribbon. You would choose the first option if you’d only messed up one tab and the others were ok, whereas you might choose the second option if you’d mistakenly resequenced the tabs, added new ones you didn’t really need and added/changed groups within those tabs – and then thought better of it.


Import Or Export Ribbon Customizations

When you create a ribbon customization that you think may be useful to your colleagues, you can export all your settings as a file. Your colleagues can then import the file and then their ribbon set up will look exactly the same as yours.

To export your ribbon customizations, click Import/Export at the bottom of the window and then select Export All Ribbon And Quick Access Toolbar Customizations. Navigate to a place on your hard drive or network, type in a name for your customizations file and click Save. The file is given a “.exportedUI” extension.


To import a ribbon customization, click the Import/Export button and select Import Customization File. Navigate to where the customization file is, select it and click Open. You will then see a confirmation prompt asking you whether you want to replace all existing ribbon and quick access toolbar customizations. Clicking No will cancel without making any changes, whereas clicking Yes will overwrite your existing ribbon configuration with the one saved in the customization file you just imported.


When you are happy with the changes you’ve made to your ribbon’s set up, click OK at the bottom of the window and the changes will be applied.