Customize the Office Fluent ribbon by using a managed COM add-in

The ribbon component of the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface in Microsoft Office suites gives users a flexible way to work with Office applications. Ribbon Extensibility (RibbonX) uses simple, text-based, declarative XML markup to create and customize the ribbon.

The code example in this topic shows how to customize the ribbon in an Office application, no matter what document is open. In the following steps, you create application-level customizations by using a managed COM add-in, and you create the add-in in Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 by using Microsoft Visual C#. The project adds a custom tab, a custom group, and a custom button to the ribbon. To complete the procedure, you perform the following tasks.

  1. Create the XML customization file.

  2. Create a managed COM add-in project in Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 with C#.

  3. Add the XML customization file to the project as an embedded resource.

  4. Implement the IRibbonExtensibility interface.

  5. Create a callback method that is triggered when the button is chosen.

  6. Build, install, and test the project.

Create the XML customization file

In this step, you create the file that adds the custom components to the ribbon.

  1. In a text editor, add the following XML markup.

     <customUI xmlns=""> 
           <tab id="CustomTab" label="My Tab"> 
             <group id="SampleGroup" label="Sample Group"> 
               <button id="Button" label="Insert Company Name" size="large" onAction="InsertCompanyName" /> 
             </group > 
  2. Close and save the file as customUI.xml.

Create a managed COM add-in project

In this step, you create a COM add-in C# project in Microsoft Visual Studio 2012.

  1. Start Microsoft Visual Studio 2012.

  2. On the File menu, choose New Project.

  3. In the New Project dialog box under Project Types, expand Other Projects, choose Extensibility Projects, and then double-click Shared Addin.

  4. Add a name for the project; for this sample, type RibbonXSampleCS.

  5. In the first screen of the Shared Add-in Wizard, choose Next.

  6. Select Create an Add-in using Visual C#, and then choose Next.

  7. Clear all of the selections except Microsoft Word, and then choose Next.

  8. Type a name and description for the add-in, and then choose Next.

  9. In the Choose Add-in Options screen, select I would like my Add-in to load when the host application loads and then choose Next.

  10. Choose Finish to complete the wizard.

Add external references to the project

In this step you add references to the Word Primary Interop Assemblies and type library.

  1. In the Solution Explorer, right-click References, and then choose Add Reference.


    If you don't see the References folder, choose the Project menu, and then choose Show All Files.

  2. Scroll down on the .NET tab, press the CTRL key, and then select Microsoft.Office.Interop.Word.

  3. On the COM tab, scroll down, select either the Microsoft Office 15.0 Object Library (or the library that is appropriate for your version of Office), and then choose OK.

  4. Add the following namespace references to the project, if they don't already exist, just below the namespace line.

     using System.Reflection; 
     using Microsoft.Office.Core; 
     using System.IO; 
     using System.Xml; 
     using Extensibility; 
     using System.Runtime.InteropServices; 
     using MSword = Microsoft.Office.Interop.Word; 

Add the XML customization file as an embedded resource

In this step, you add the XML customization file as an embedded resource in the project.

  1. In the Solution Explorer, right-click RibbonXSampleCS, point to Add, and choose Existing Item.

  2. Navigate to the customUI.xml file that you created, select the file, and then choose Add.

  3. In the Solution Explorer, right-click customUI.xml, and then select Properties.

  4. In the Properties window, select Build Action, and then scroll down to Embedded Resource.

Implement the IRibbonExtensibility interface

In this step you add code to the Extensibility.IDTExtensibility2::OnConnection to create a reference to the Word application at runtime. You also implement the only member of the IRibbonExtensibility interface, GetCustomUI.

  1. In the Solution Explorer, right-click Connect.cs, and then choose View Code.

  2. After the Connect method, add the following declaration, which creates a reference to the Word Application object:

    private MSword.Application applicationObject;

  3. Add the following line to the OnConnection method. This statement creates an instance of the Word Application object:

    applicationObject =(MSword.Application)application;

  4. At the end of the public class Connect statement, add a comma, and then type IRibbonExtensibility.


    Use Microsoft IntelliSense to insert interface methods for you. For example, at the end of the public class Connect statement, type IRibbonExtensibility, right-click and point to Implement Interface, and then choose Implement Interface Explicitly. This adds a stub for the GetCustomUI method. The implementation looks similar to the following code.

       string IRibbonExtensibility.GetCustomUI(string RibbonID) 
  5. Insert the following statement into the GetCustomUI method, overwriting the existing code: return GetResource("customUI.xml");

  6. Insert the following method below the GetCustomUI method:

     private string GetResource(string resourceName) 
               Assembly asm = Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly(); 
               foreach (string name in asm.GetManifestResourceNames()) 
                   if (name.EndsWith(resourceName)) 
                       System.IO.TextReader tr = new System.IO.StreamReader(asm.GetManifestResourceStream(name)); 
                       //Debug.Assert(tr != null); 
                       string resource = tr.ReadToEnd(); 
                       return resource; 
               return null; 

    The GetCustomUI method calls the GetResource method. The GetResource method sets a reference to this assembly during runtime and then loops through the embedded resource until it finds the one named customUI.xml. It then creates an instance of the StreamReader object that reads the embedded file containing the XML markup. The procedure passes the XML back to the GetCustomUI method which returns the XML to the ribbon. Alternately, you can construct a string that contains the XML markup and read it directly into the GetCustomUI method.

  7. Following the GetResource method, add this method. This method inserts the company name into the document at the beginning of the page.

     public void InsertCompanyName(IRibbonControl control) 
           // Inserts the specified text at the beginning of a range or selection. 
               string MyText; 
               MyText = "Microsoft Corporation"; 
               MSword.Document doc = applicationObject.ActiveDocument; 
               //Inserts text at the beginning of the active document. 
               object startPosition = 0; 
               object endPosition = 0; 
               MSword.Range r = (MSword.Range)doc.Range( 
                     ref startPosition, ref endPosition); 

Build and install the project

In this step, you build the add-in and its setup project. Before you continue, make sure that Word is closed.

  1. In the Project menu, choose Build Solution. When the build is complete, a notification appears in the lower left corner of the window.

  2. In the Solution Explorer, right-click RibbonXSampleCSSetup, and then choose Build.

  3. Right-click RibbonXSampleCSSetup again and choose Install to begin the RibbonXSampleCSSetup Setup Wizard.

  4. Choose Next in each of the screens, and then choose Close on the final screen.

  5. Start Word. You should see the My Tab tab to the right of the other tabs.

Test the project

Choose the My Tab tab, and then choose Insert Company Name to insert the company name into the document at the cursor. If you don't see the customized ribbon, you might need to add an entry to the Windows registry by completing the following steps.


The next few steps contain information about how to modify the registry. Before you modify the registry, be sure to back it up and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up, restore, and edit the registry, see this Microsoft Knowledge Base article: Windows registry information for advanced users (256986).

  1. In the Solution Explorer, right-click the setup project, RibbonXSampleCSSetup, point to View, and then choose Registry.

  2. From the Registry tab, navigate to the following registry key for the add-in: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\Word\AddIns\RibbonXSampleCS.Connect


    If the RibbonXSampleCS.Connect key does not exist, you can create it. To do so, right-click the Addins folder, point to New, and then choose Key. Name the key RibbonXSampleCS.Connect. Add a LoadBehavior DWord, and set its value to 3.

See also

Support and feedback

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