How to Customize the Word 2010 Ribbon

By Helen Bradley | Posted April 03, 2012

Not all of the tools on the Microsoft Word 2010 Ribbon are where you'd expect to find them, and some Word 2007 tools didn't make it to the Ribbon at all. Luckily you can customize the Ribbon and create your own custom tabs with commands to make it easier to find the tools you use every day.

I'll show you how to customize the Word Ribbon and, as an added bonus, these techniques will work in other small business software you use every day -- including PowerPoint 2010 and Excel 2010.

Locate the Customize Options

You'll find the customization options for the Ribbon by choosing File > Options > Customize Ribbon. The left-hand panel contains commands that you can add to tabs on the Ribbon, and the right-hand panel lists the available tabs. A selector at the top of the left-hand panel lets you select from a number of lists of commands including Commands Not in the Ribbon and All Commands. Use these lists to find the commands you want to add to the Ribbon.

Microsoft Word 2010 buttons.


There are multiple lists of commands to choose from for adding to the ribbon.

Create New Tabs

To add a custom tab to the Word 2010 Ribbon, click the New Tab button and a new tab will appear automatically in the right panel. Click this tab, and click Rename to type a new name for it. Each tab comes with a new group already in place, as all commands must be stored within a group inside a tab.

If you want to rename this group, click on it, choose Rename and give it a new name. You can also choose an icon for the group – the icon appears if the window is shrunk down to a very small size and there is insufficient room for all groups to appear full-size.

Microsoft Word 2010 groups

You can name a group and choose an icon for it. The icon appears if you shrink the Ribbon to a small size.

You can create multiple groups within a tab and multiple tabs, too, depending on your needs. When you create a new group, you can adjust its position within that tab by selecting it and clicking the Move Up and Move Down buttons on the far right of the dialog. You can also move a tab using these buttons, but be aware that you can’t move a tab to the very bottom of the list, as the tabs at the bottom of the list are special tabs and their position is fixed.

You can also add new groups to the existing tabs. For example, if you want to add something to the View tab, click the View tab and add a new group to it; then you can add buttons to that tab. It's not possible to add commands to any of the built-in groups on this or any other Word tab.

Add Commands to a Tab

Browse the lists in the left panel to locate the commands you want to add to a group. If you view Commands not in the Ribbon, you will see commands that you may want to add to the Ribbon. To add a command, use the panel on the right to select the place you want the command to go. Use the panel on the left to select the command, and then click Add.

Microsoft Word 2010 tabs

You can add your choice of commands to populate a custom tab on the Ribbon.

Not all the commands available for Word made it onto the Ribbon, so there may be commands you used in the past that you would like to see on the Ribbon. In addition, you can add commands to your custom tabs or custom groups that already exist elsewhere on the Ribbon, so you have them in two places. You might do this if you find it difficult to remember where to find a particular command. You can place it where it makes sense to you or where it will be easy for you to find it.

Microsoft Word 2010 commands

Add commands to your own custom tab or to a custom group on Word's own tabs.

Additional Customization Options

If you right-click a tab name, a group name or a command name within a group, you'll find additional customization features. The shortcut menu shows options that let you delete or rename a command, assign it a different icon, move it, or add new tabs or tab groups.

Save and Share Customizations

Once you have set up your custom tabs, you can export the customizations to a file by clicking Import/Export. Click Export All Customizations, and click Save to save the exported file. You might do this if you want to use your custom layout on another computer at work or at home.

You can also share your customizations with other people in your office so that you all share the same setup. You can use your exported customization on another computer by launching Word, choose File > Options > Customize Ribbon, and then choose Import/Export > Import Customization File. Now browse to find the file you that exported so you can import the details.

MS Word 2010 Share

You can share customizations to configure every computer in your office the same way.

Reset the Ribbon

Here's what you do if you're working on a computer where someone has customized Word, and you want to undo the changes and reset Word back to its defaults. Click the Reset option, and then select to Reset only selected Ribbon tab or Reset all customizations.

These customization options in Microsoft Word 2010 give you the capability to fine-tune the Ribbon to suit your needs. Your favorite productivity software commands will be exactly where you want them whenever you need them.

Remember -- you can apply these Word 2010 customization tips to any of the Microsoft Office Suite software apps. You can tame Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and OneNote so that they behave as you want, too.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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