Getting Started: Introduction to Microsoft Word Ribbon Menu

About this lesson

Tutorial Summary:

This training video provides an in-depth look at Microsoft Word’s Ribbon Menu, available on both Windows and Mac. The Ribbon Menu is a collection of tabbed menus at the top of the screen, each containing related commands organized into easily accessible action icons. The tutorial emphasizes mastering the HOME and INSERT tabs for everyday tasks, while also introducing the FILE menu’s location differences between Windows and Mac.

The video demonstrates how to customize the Ribbon Menu for better productivity, such as hiding or showing the menu to maximize workspace. It also explains how to use the SHOW CHANGES feature to track recent edits, highlighting its importance for collaborative projects. The INSERT tab is covered extensively, showing how to add various elements like images and shapes, and explaining the use of drop-down arrows and in-ribbon galleries for more choices.

Additionally, the tutorial explores the deeper layers of the Ribbon Menu, including Dialog Box Launchers that provide access to more specialized commands not directly visible on the Ribbon. It also introduces contextual tabs, which appear only when specific elements like shapes, charts, or pictures are selected and offer relevant formatting options.

Questions Answered:

0:18 What is the Word Tabbed Office Ribbon?
1:39 Where is the file menu in Word for Windows? And where is it on the Mac?
2:12 Why is my Word ribbon menu missing?
3:40 Where is my Show Ribbon command in Word?
4:05 Can the Mac version of Windows hide the ribbon menu?
7:48 What is the in-ribbon gallery menu?
9:59 Where do you find the spell check on Word on a PC? And on a Mac?


00:14 Tabbed Office Ribbon Menu Bar
00:30 Tab Menus
00:45 Action Icons
01:10 The 2 Menus to Know
01:34 Plus the FILE Menu
02:12 Fix Missing Ribbon Menu
04:05 macOS Ribbon Menu Control
04:27 Grouped Action Icons
06:16 Special Action Icons
07:48 In-Ribbon Gallery
10:33 Dialog Box Launcher
12:47 Contextual Menu Tabs


Subject Microsoft Word

Software Compatibility Office 365 Mac & WIndows; and earlier


Course Completed

PDF Files There are not any files associated with this lesson.



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Introduction to Microsoft Word Menu Transcript

Learn everything you need to know about Microsoft’s Word Ribbon Menu for both Windows and the Mac.

Hi, this Les from Power Up training and let’s do it!

Starting with the first of six concepts: the Tabbed Office Ribbon Menu bar.

Running at the top of your screen is the ribbon menu bar. It is made up of a collection of distinct tab menus, each defined by a single classification name.

Click on the tab name, such as INSERT, and a doorway opens to reveal an ensemble of related commands as represented by one-click action icons.

Each click of another tab menu uncovers another collection of related action command icons.

And this is the beauty of the Word menu system; an intelligent organization of over 300 commands into digestible tabbed menus.

While the number of tabbed menus can be overwhelming, the good news is you really only need to master these two menus: HOME and INSERT, and the other eight or so menus are for specialized tasks rarely used in the everyday process of document creation and editing.

Oh yes, there is a third menu you need to know and that is the FILE menu. Which is the first big deviation between the Mac and Windows’ version of the Word ribbon menu. For our PC users, the file menu is to the left of the HOME ribbon menu. For the Mac, the FILE command is located in the App Menu in the top left corner next to the Apple Menu icon.

More about the available actions in the file menu later on.

But what if you see NO RIBBON MENU or just the TAB MENU names?

This is a Microsoft trick to give you either more screen real estate for your document or more visual help by always displaying the menu system.

And so, even if this is not an issue for you now, pay attention to this customized productivity tip to adapt Word to your liking.

To change the settings in Windows, click the down arrow v icon on the far right of the screen.

There are three options. We are in ALWAYS SHOW RIBBON mode but let’s switch to “SHOW TABS ONLY.”  This will hide the detailed action icons section until I click the menu tab, such as HOME to reveal the actions. Perform a command and the icons rolls up and away revealing more workspace.

If I go back and choose the first option of FULL SCREEN MODE, then Microsoft Word hides all of the ribbon menu for even more working space. Great if you have LOTS of words to edit or a small laptop screen area to work with.

Now to access the hiding ribbon menu, move your mouse to the top of the screen to see an empty white rectangle bar appear and click inside of the nothingness.

Bingo, the menu tabs and action icons resurface.

Including the downward arrow v for you to click and bring back the ALWAYS SHOW RIBBON.

Hey mac users, there is no downward v arrow. So to get an abbreviated menu choice. Just click on the any Ribbon tab name TWICE. And the action icons roll up. Click the menu name again and they are back.


Now let’s go deeper for both Mac and Windows.

Inside each Menu Tab is a collection of related action icons; which I said already.

However, pay close attention to the subtle gray line dividers as they will GROUP related commands together.

Such as the Clipboard group of CUT, COPY and PASTE.

Or the font formatting group. These related groups are there to organize related commands.

And even within the groupings, you may find smaller subgrouping like these two related action icons. . . expect what the heck are these two?

One way to find out, is to hover your mouse over the action icon to reveal its purpose.

This pair of Big and Small capital A icons will INCREASE or DECREASE the FONT SIZE with each click.

Or how about this one?

This standalone Cap / lowercase A action icon will cycle through changing a letter to uppercase or lowercase or proper first letter case.

Windows users, just hover you mouses pointer and learn.

I suspect that in everyday writing, the HOME menu collection of actions will cover almost all of your core needs; but if you need to add more than just words then the second most used menu tab will be INSERT. Where you can add images, charts, screenshots, header and footers and much much more.

Inside the INSERT tab menu, we will find a special action icon with the upside arrow v, which indicates there are more choices below.

Click, but instead of an immediate action, you get a drop-down list of more choices.

For the SHAPE action icon, we get a specific list of shapes we can INSERT.

Then click and draw the shape.

This works the same for Windows and Mac but for the apple screen the drop-down arrow is to the right of the symbol not below.


Now let’s look at another visual clue. Same downward arrow, click but unlike the SHAPES down arrow where we saw an immediate set of actions to add, under the PICTURE drop down, we get a list of words with dot dot dot at the end.

This indicates that a larger set of choices are hiding beyond these commands.

Click, and out pops the expanded Dialog Box.

In our case, I will choose STOCK IMAGES where we are set free into a sea of images to use. Let’s not get distracted from our core learning mission of exploring menus, so I will cancel here.

Next the In-Ribbon Gallery.

Some of the Menu tabs hold a collection of visual style choices for formatting your Word document where you can peruse and click to apply.

Right in on the HOME ribbon tab is visual list of a document style sheet with a graphical representation of possible formatting enhancements.

This is an advanced feature, but as a preview, see how the applied style is indicated when I click different parts of my already formatted document?

When I click inside the first line of my document, the gallery indicates this has the TITLE style formatting. And clicking the second line, I see this is using the NORMAL formatting style.

Furthermore, watch as I hover, not click, my mouse over the different styles in the ribbon gallery and instantly see the impact if I were to click.  Note that some styles impact just a word while others may impact the full paragraph.

The sophisticated use of style sheets to bring consistency to large documents will be covered in other tutorial, so do subscribe to Power Up Training.

Another example of the ribbon gallery component is found in the DESIGN ribbon menu. And now instead of impacting a word or paragraph, it is changing the full design of the complete document. This in-ribbon gallery found in the DESIGN tab is all about formatting the full document . . . another advanced set of capabilities that you do not need to worry about; quite yet.

As a new Word users, you can ignore most of the specialized menu tabs beyond HOME and INSERT. Master those first two for your everyday Word usage and you should be good to go.

However, with one additional command hiding all the way over in the REVIEW tab: that is where you find the critically helpful SPELLING AND GRAMMAR action icon. Review tab; Spelling and grammar.

Do note that in the mac environment, the galleries are the same EXCEPT that as of December 2023, they will not auto preview changes while hovering the mouse over the selection. This is currently only Windows feature.

Now to the next concept of dialog box launcher. Microsoft Word is a HUGE Program, with tons of features. 85% you may never use even if you become an expert. However, there are some useful commands that don’t fit on the ribbon bar or even in the drop-down action icons.

To uncover those additional commands, you need to find the Dialog Box Launcher.

On Windows, you will find them with the diagonally downward right arrow box inside the groupings.

Look here at the FONT dialog box. Once clicked, you see EVERTHING you can do to modify text from font family to size to effects. While the most common effects, like bold, italics, underline can be found on the regular ribbon menu, there are specialized commands, such as double strikethrough or small caps that can only be found in this buried menu.

As you see, there are a variety of these deeper Dialog boxes, such as with PARAGRAPH.

Mac users, this seems like another missing feature; but don’t worry, it is just hiding. If you click the more traditional FORMAT in the Word app menu, the drop-down list of choices show all the same dialog boxes that Window users see right on the Ribbon menu. All in one place.

Which brings us to whacky FILE menu located to the far left on Windows and back up on Apple top app menu.

This will bring up similar but not identical laid out menus for managing the saving, opening, printing of your documents.

Each following the user interface style of their respective operating systems behavior.

And yes Power Up Training has specialized tutorials on File and Save.

However, we have one more mystery Ribbon Menu to explore: the hidden contextual tabs.

These are a set of commands that are specialized and will only show up when a unique element in the Word document is selected.

Watch carefully how a new hidden menu will appear when I click the star shape.

The SHAPE FORMAT menu pops up.

When I click off the shape, the menu disappears and reappears when I click the shape again.

What is inside the SHAPE FORMAT menu? Well, no surprises here; ways to format and change the selected shape like modifying the look from blue to green. Or rotating the shape.

This is a Contextual Menu. It only appears in context to the selected object, such as a shape object.

And it is irrespective of what base menu I am in. In my example the contextual shape format menu appears when I click the shape no matter if I was originally in the HOME or the INSERT MENU.

Click the object and it appears.

And there are many more context commands. Such as when I click a chart. In fact, graphs are complex enough that it needs TWO contextual menus: CHART DESIGN with an in-ribbon gallery of chart layouts and FORMAT for changing specific chart elements.

Then there are PICTURE context menus all about formatting of photos.

The beauty of the context menu system is that you don’t need to worry about them cluttering the ribbon menu when you aren’t working on say a TABLE but when you do need the specialized tools, click on the object and up pops all the needed commands.

That is very cool.

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Until next time, go power up.