Updated: 06/07/2019 by Computer Hope

A ribbon may refer to any of the following:

1. When referring to impact printing, a ribbon is a device used to transfer ink to paper. Ribbons are found on devices such as typewriters and stenotype machines.

Picture of Office Ribbon

2. When referring to Microsoft Office programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel, the Ribbon is a feature that replaces the traditional File menu. As can be seen in the image, the Ribbon dynamically changes based on what the user is currently doing. In this example, the Ribbon for "Write" is being displayed.

Additional Ribbon examples

Below is an updated version of the Ribbon introduced with Office 2010 and how the Ribbon appears in Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Word

As we mentioned before, the Ribbon changes depending on what you're doing in Word, Excel, or another Office program. For example, if you're working with images, the Ribbon displays all the available modifications that can be performed on them.

How do I hide the Ribbon?

  1. Click the small down arrow at the very top of the window shown next to the printer icon in the above example. If a printer icon is not displayed, it would be next to the Undo or Redo (blue) arrow icon.
  2. In the menu that appears, select Minimize the Ribbon.

If there is not a Minimize the Ribbon option in that menu, look for an Up arrow underneath the red X in the upper-right corner that closes the program window. Clicking the Up arrow, titled "Minimize the Ribbon," will hide the Ribbon. When the Ribbon is hidden, the Up arrow will change to a Down arrow and clicking it displays the Ribbon again.


Pressing Ctrl+F1 on the keyboard is a shortcut for hiding and showing the Ribbon.

How to use keyboard shortcuts with the Ribbon

To view available keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Office programs, press the Alt key. Once pressed each of the options available in the ribbon are shown with a letter(s) or number next to them. Pressing that letter or number will activate that option in the Ribbon. For example, you can press Alt and then H or Alt+H to access the Home tab. Once in the Home tab, each of the Home tab options is shown with their corresponding key next to them as shown in the following picture.

Excel home tab keyboard shortcuts

Menu, Office button, Word processor terms