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Microsoft Word's Ribbon has been around since Word 2008. Although in that version, it was referred to as the Element Gallery. The Ribbon is at the top of the document window just underneath the toolbar. If it isn't showing you can display it by choosing View > Ribbon or by pressing Option+Command+R. I know it's showing right now because there is a checkmark next to it. The Ribbon is broken down into different tabs. For example, in this document we see Home, Layout, Document Elements, Tables, Charts, SmartArt, and Review.
Clicking the current tab toggles the Ribbon display. So if I click Home, the Ribbon disappears. It's minimized. If I click it again, it reappears. Clicking another tab displays that Ribbon. So each time I click, it displays another one. The tabs that appear vary depending on the kind of document you're working on or what is selected within that document. For example, if the document includes an image and that image is selected, like this one right, the Format Picture tab appears on the Ribbon.
If I click that, it'll display options that will help me format that picture. The purpose of the Ribbon is to give you quick access to the features you're likely to use most. For example in the Home tab, you'll find a bunch of buttons for formatting font characters, paragraphs, as well as applying styles, and inserting objects. Theoretically, you should be able to perform most tasks with the Ribbon instead of Word's menus and dialogs. Now other than tabs, the Ribbon has its own interface elements.
For example, you can minimize or display the Ribbon by clicking the button on the far left end of the tab, which is right here. That will minimize it or display it. If a group of options includes an arrow button, you could scroll to see more options. You could see that here with styles. There are two different arrows and I can use the arrows to scroll through. Some options are actually menus that you can click to display and choose from. So here is an example. Here, this is a Line Spacing menu, so you could choose different line spacing options and the Borders menu is another example.
If you point to some items that have arrows for scrolling, you get a little tab and that's also a menu. So if I click that, I can see all the options at once instead of scrolling through them. You can also customize the Ribbon to better meet your needs. I explain it how in the chapter about customizing Word.
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