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Identify Basic Tools in the Ribbon

Introduction to the ribbon

The ribbon is a command bar that organizes a program's features into a series of tabs at the top of a window. Using a ribbon increases discoverability and functions, enables quicker learning of the program as a whole, and makes users feel more in control of their experience with the program. A ribbon can replace both the traditional menu bar and toolbars1.

The ribbon's command interface brings many controls out from hiding and onto the page where they can do the most good. Similar to the user interface in products like Microsoft Word 2010, the ribbon is a toolbar that appears across the top of each page and displays many of the most commonly-used tools, controls, and commands.

TIP: When you log into SharePoint, the ribbon will be either shown or hidden. Either way, you will see the Site Actions menu in the upper, left of the page. To see the ribbon, click Site Actions, and then click Show Ribbon.

With the ribbon layout, you can quickly find the commands needed to complete the specific tasks you are working on. SharePoint has several menus, tabs, and groups of functionality for you to build your web site, but they are contextual, meaning content-specific functionality will appear in the ribbon depending on the tasks you are completing (determined by where your mouse is). For example, when in edit mode, if you click on an image, the Picture Tools menu appears in the ribbon.

The shown ribbon opens in the Browse tab, and initially looks like this:


  • Site Actions: – Provides addition functions that may not appear in the ribbon, many of which are administrative functions of SharePoint. The options you see under Site Actions are directly related to your permission level.
  • navigate_up.pngNavigate Up: - Provides a location view of the page you are on within the site files. You can click on this button at any time to see where you are in the site files, and easily move up levels in the site tree.
  • Edit - Initiates Edit Mode.
  • Browse tab - Pages open with the Browse tab selected. The Browse tab has no ribbon-based tools associated with it, and essentially collapses the ribbon.
  • Page tab - Tools and commands related to page management
  • Publish tab - Command to publish and/or unpublish a page


When you click on a tab other than Browse, the ribbon for that tab opens. Within each tab, ribbon commands and controls are organized into groups. Each group contains functions related to a specific task.

Here is the ribbon expanded for the Page tab.


There are several other contextual Menus, Tabs, and groups that appear during your editing experience, specific to the tasks you are completing. Other tabs include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Editing Tools tab
          - Format Text tab
          - Insert tab
  • Picture Tools tab
  • Tables tab
  • Web Parts tab

What if the feature in the ribbon is grayed out?

While the ribbon helps you quickly find the commands that you need to complete tasks, you may find that some of the commands on the ribbon are unavailable.

Some reasons why commands are disabled on the ribbon include the following:

  • You do not have permission to work with specific features. For example, if you have the default design permission level you cannot edit list items or documents, and therefore, any commands on the ribbon that pertain to editing list items or documents are unavailable
  • You need to select an item or object. For example, if you are working with a document library, you must first select a document in the library to enable many of the ribbon commands that enable you to work with the document.
  • You may not have the appropriate client application installed. For example, the Connect to Outlook command requires that Microsoft Outlook be installed.

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