The Open Desk

Margie Beilharz

Freelance editor and writer in science, environment, education, health

Add a custom tab to your Word ribbon

I gave an informal talk today to science editors about using macros, but it was my very first tip that generated the most excitement.

You can add a your own customised tab to the Word ribbon!

For example, I have added a tab called MB Macros to my Word ribbon as a way of easily getting access to particular macros. It’s particularly great for macros I don’t use all the time so I forget their keyboard shortcuts. You may have other commands you’d like to gather together in a customised tab.

This is my Word PC ribbon – you can see my MB Macros tab next to the Developer tab (an existing tab you’ll want to show on your ribbon if you use macros).

The Word ribbon, set on the Home tab. The MB Macros tab is circled in red.

How do you customise the ribbon? This is done in:
• PC – File>Options>Customize Ribbon
• Mac – Word>Preferences>Ribbon & Toolbars.

The dialog box for customising is similar in PC and Mac. The PC one is below.

The customise ribbon dialog box (from a PC)

In the right hand column, first see that I have the Developer tab checked – that’s how you get it to display in the ribbon.

Add a new tab to the ribbon

On the right, below the list of tabs you can see the New Tab button (On the Mac it is a + sign – see pic below). Click on this to add a tab to the ribbon.

The new tab will be added below the currently selected tab.

The tab is automatically created containing a group. All commands need to be in a group within the tab. For example, in the Home tab shown in the top pic, you can see commands grouped into Clipboard, Font, Paragraph and Styles (plus more out of picture). You can use these groups to arrange your commands, or have the commands all in the one group.

Rename the tab and group using the Rename button (on the Mac it is the setting wheel). On the PC, you can choose an icon as well as a name, but I’m not actually sure when the icon shows up.

Click OK. Your ribbon will now show your new tab. In the dialog box, you can use the up and down arrows on the right to rearrange the order of the tabs (PC) or drag to reorder (Mac).

Add commands to your new tab

To add commands to your new tab, open up the dialog box again. This is the Mac version.

The customise ribbon from the Mac, with Macros selected under 'Choose commands from'

In the left column, select Choose commands from: Macros – as I’ve done above.

You’ll see your list of macros.

Using the left arrow in the centre (labelled Add on the PC), copy the macros you want onto your new tab in the relevant group. You can see in Word on my Mac I have a group for my macros and a group for macros from macro guru Paul Beverley.

Rename to a nice short name. Again, on the PC you can choose an icon, and this will show up in the tab.

Save your changes and have a look at your tab. Below is my MB Macros tab on the PC with a handful of macros.

The custom MB Macros tab showing a few macros

Set keyboard shortcuts for macros

A final tweak will make it even easier to use your favourite macros, and that is to save keyboard shortcuts to run them.

Keyboard shortcuts are set in:
• Mac – Tools>Customise Keyboard
• PC – Word>Options>Customize Ribbon. In the dialog box on the PC, click Keyboard Shortcuts: Customize (bottom left)

Under categories, select Macros, as shown below in the PC dialogue box.

Customise Keyboard dialog box where you can set keyboard shortcuts for your macros

Then select a macro and enter the shortcut key combination you want to use.

You’ll be notified if the combination is already in use. Then you can either replace the previous use for your new one or choose a new combination.

Click Assign to lock it in. (Don’t forget this step!)

Click Close.

Now you can run the macro from Word using the keyboard shortcut.

See more tips and tricks. Tips on Word are gathered in this collection.




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