Updated: 05/01/2023 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.

2. With a cable, a ribbon is a description of the IDE cable.

Office ribbon

3. When referring to Microsoft Office programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel, the Ribbon is a feature that replaces the traditional file menu and toolbar. As shown 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 and has grouped all writing related activities together.

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. Clicking the Up arrow, titled "Minimize the Ribbon," hides the Ribbon. When the Ribbon is hidden, the up arrow changes 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 customize the Ribbon

The Ribbon can be customized by right-clicking anywhere on the Ribbon and choose the Customize the Ribbon option. Once in the Customize Ribbon window, you can add and remove any option shown in the Ribbon, change the display order, and customize the keyboard shortcuts.

How to use keyboard shortcuts with the Ribbon

To view available keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Office programs, press the Alt. 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 activates 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 options is shown with their corresponding key next to them as shown in the following picture.

Excel home tab keyboard shortcuts


If you're already in the tab, you can press the Alt to show the options.

Ribbon tab shortcuts

Below is a list of the keyboard shortcuts used to open each of the Ribbon tabs in Microsoft Word.

Below is a list of keyboard shortcuts used to open each of the Ribbon tabs in Microsoft Excel.

Below is a list of keyboard shortcuts to open each of the Ribbon tabs in Microsoft PowerPoint.

GUI, Menu, Office button, Word processor terms