Make Excel’s Ribbon work for you


by Kara Hiltz


Microsoft Excel 2010/2013/2016

Operating Systems:

Microsoft Windows 

Recent versions of Excel have included the infamous Ribbon, which took the place of Excel’s traditional menu bar. As with any drastic change, many Excel users expressed disappointment with the Ribbon. One of the most common complaints was that Excel 2007’s new Ribbon could not be customized. The tabs were set in stone and Excel users were left with memorizing every command’s new place. Excel’s newer versions allow you to change, remove, and add to the commands on the Ribbon. Though imperfect, this change gives users much more flexibility than the Ribbon previously offered.

To customize Excel’s Ribbon, we’ll:

  • Remove groups of commands from Excel’s existing tabs.
  • Rearrange the groups found on our existing tabs.
  • Create an entirely new group of commands on an existing tab.


The greatest thing about software (and maybe the worst thing, too) is that there are often several ways to accomplish the same task. The “right” way often comes down to personal preference and work style. For this reason, anything Excel users can do to make their Excel interface match their personal work style can make their lives much easier.

If you worked in Excel 2007 and grumbled about the change from the menu bar to the Ribbon, as shown in Figure A, Excel’s customization features in versions 2010 and newer may appeal to you.



Excel 2007 introduced the Ribbon interface, which replaced the traditional menu bar found in Excel 2003 and earlier.

Remove items from an existing tab

You may never use some of the Excel commands taking up space in your Ribbon’s tabs. It’s time to remove them. One caveat: You cannot remove individual commands from an existing tab. You must remove an entire group from the tab.

To remove a group from an existing tab:

  1. Open the File menu tab and choose Options, as shown in Figure B.
  2. In the Excel Options dialog box, select Customize Ribbon on the left side.
  3. On the right side of the Excel Options dialog box, use the plus and minus icons in the list box to expand and collapse the tabs. They are organized by tab, then group, and then command.
  4. Select the group that you want to remove in the right list box, and then click the Remove button, as shown in Figure C. In our example, we removed the Clipboard group from the Home tab.

Timesaver: A quick way to access the Excel Options dialog box is to right-click on the Ribbon and choose Customize Ribbon from the shortcut menu.

Note that you can also remove a tab from the Ribbon entirely by deselecting it. For instance, if you don’t find yourself using the Review tab often, just deselect the check box to the left of the Review tab in the right list box.



The options reside in Excel 2010’s new File menu tab.



Existing tabs, along with their corresponding groups and commands, display in the right list box.

Establish a new order

Who decided to put translation and language commands on the Review tab? Maybe that placement makes sense to you, but maybe it doesn’t. You want your Ribbon’s tabs to feel intuitive, so you should order them in a way that you will understand to make everything easy to find. Again, just like removing groups from your tabs, you must also rearrange entire groups in your tabs, not individual commands. Fortunately, you can move a group not only to a different position on the same tab, but also to a different tab completely.

To rearrange groups within an existing tab:

  1. Open the Excel Options dialog box by choosing Options from the File [...]
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