facebook google plus twitter
Webucator's Free Upgrading to Microsoft Excel 2010 Tutorial

Lesson: The Ribbon

Welcome to our free Upgrading to Microsoft Excel 2010 tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Upgrading to Microsoft Excel 2010 course.

The Ribbon is the display you see at the top of the Microsoft Excel window. It is your primary interface with Excel. It allows you to access most of the commands available to you in Excel. The Ribbon is composed of three parts: Tabs, Groups and Commands.

Lesson Goals

  • Learn all about the Ribbon.
  • Learn about the Home tab.
  • Learn about on-demand commands on the Ribbon.
  • Learn where many popular features are now located.


Microsoft Excel is a powerful program which is used to analyze and present data, perform calculations, and much more. Microsoft Excel has hundreds of commands for working with different scenarios. To make it easier for users to find the specific commands they are looking for, commands are organized onto eight main tabs:

  1. Home. The Home tab includes commands for formatting worksheets, cells and data and commands for inserting and deleting columns and rows.
  2. Insert. Use the Insert tab to insert tables, illustrations, charts, links, sparklines, headers & footers, custom text and symbols, and more.
  3. Page Layout. Use the Page Layout tab to change your margins, change the page background, change the page orientation, and more.
  4. Formulas. Use the Formulas tab to browse and select formulas and functions, to define names, to audit formulas, and more.
  5. Data. Use the Data tab to access external data, to sort & filter, to access data tools, to group cells together, to add subtotals, and more.
  6. Review. Use the Review tab to check spelling, add comments, protect your worksheet or workbook, and more.
  7. View. Use the View tab to change your workbook view, show or hide gridlines, headings, the formula bar and the ruler, arrange windows, freeze panes, zoom in or out, and more.
  8. Add-Ins. You may or may not see the Add-Ins tab. This tab shows up after you install and activate your first Add-In. Add-Ins are beyond the scope of this course.

Note that the File menu is not the same as a tab. The File menu takes you to the Backstage view, where you manage, rather than make changes to, your workbook. The Backstage view is covered in the next lesson.

Tool Tabs

In addition to the main tabs, there are numerous tool tabs which include less commonly used commands. Individual tool tabs are covered in detail in our intermediate and advanced Microsoft Excel classes. For now you should know:

  • That they exist. Some of the most commonly used tool tabs are:
    • SmartArt
    • Chart
    • Drawing
    • Picture
    • PivotTable
    • PivotChart
    • Header & Footer
  • That they will appear when you select commands which have related tool tabs. For example, when you insert a PivotTable, two PivotTable-specific tool tabs (Options and Design) will appear:


To further organize the many commands available in Microsoft Excel, commands are organized in groups on each tab. Each group contains three or more related commands. The following table lists the groups found on each tab:

Tab Group
  1. Clipboard
  2. Font
  3. Alignment
  4. Number
  5. Styles
  6. Cells
  7. Editing
  1. Tables
  2. Illustrations
  3. Charts
  4. Sparklines
  5. Filter
  6. Links
  7. Text
  8. Symbols
Page Layout
  1. Themes
  2. Page Setup
  3. Scale to Fit
  4. Sheet Options
  5. Arrange
  1. Function Library
  2. Defined Names
  3. Formula Auditing
  4. Calculation
  1. Get External Data
  2. Connections
  3. Sort & Filter
  4. Data Tools
  5. Outline
  1. Proofing
  2. Language
  4. Changes
  1. Workbook Views
  2. Show
  3. Zoom
  4. Window
  5. Macros
  1. Custom Toolbars

In some groups, you will see a button in the lower right corner, next to the group name. This is the Dialog Box Launcher. Opening the group's dialog box will give you access to additional commands associated with that group:


Commands are controls that enable you to accomplish specific tasks, such as bolding a word, wrapping text, changing the format of a number to percent, or adding a column.

The Home Tab

On the Excel 2010 Home tab, you will find commands that you will use often when working in Excel. The Copy and Paste commands are found on the Home tab in the Clipboard group.

The Font group contains commands to format text within your workbook.

In the Alignment group, you will find commands to center and align your text.

The Number group contains commands that you can use to format the numbers that appear in your worksheets.

In the Styles group, you will see options to apply conditional formatting, as well as table and cell styles, to help make your workbooks look polished and professionals.

Within the Cells group, you will find the options to insert, delete, and format cells within your worksheets.

And finally on the Home tab is the Editing group, which contains the Sort & Filter and the Find & Select options, along with the AutoSum command and the Fill and Clear commands.

On-demand Commands on the Ribbon

One of the new features in Excel 2010 are tools on the Ribbon that appear on demand, as you work. These tools will automatically appear as you work in your worksheet. They will be relevant to what you are doing at the time.

For example, if you are working with a PivotTable in your Excel worksheet, when you are working in your table, you will notice Options and Design tabs, along with the PivotTable Tools, will appear on the Ribbon.

Another example would be if you are adding Sparklines to your data. When you click in the Sparklines, you will see that the Ribbon now shows the Design tab, along with Sparkline Tools.

When you click away from the PivotTable or Sparklines, the on-demand tools will disappear, and the standard tabs will remain.