Overview of the Office user interface in Office 2010


Applies to: Office 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2011-07-15

Banner stating end of support date for Office 2010 with link to more info

Microsoft Office 2010 includes the ribbon in all Office applications and adds a new component named the Microsoft Office Backstage.

This article contains an introduction to the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface (UI), which was first introduced in Office 2007. The Office Fluent UI makes it easier to find and use commands and features by using the ribbon, the Quick Access Toolbar, and the new Backstage view.

In this article:

  • Backstage view

  • Ribbon

  • Quick Access Toolbar

Backstage view

The Backstage view is accessed by clicking the File tab, which replaces the Microsoft Office button and File menu that were in previous versions of Office. The Backstage view is available in every Office 2010 product that supports the Office Fluent UI. It helps users discover and use the features that are not part of the ribbon, such as sharing, printing, and publishing tools. The Backstage view lets you see all the information about a document in one place.

In addition, the Backstage view provides contextual information. For example, a workbook has a disabled macro in it, which is necessary for the file to work correctly, and the macro is blocked to protect your computer. You can view the contextual information about the macro and enable the macro by using the Info tab. Another example, a document that was created in an earlier version of Office is opened in Compatibility mode and some rich new features are disabled. You can view the status of the document and convert the document to the latest version (if you want to use those features) by using the Info tab. If the document is located on a Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products site and you use features such as Co-authoring, Workflows, Check Out, or Policy, the Info tab will always show you what is occurring with your document (for example, a workflow task that is assigned to you).

Similarly to the ribbon, the Backstage can be extended via custom UI that uses XML to define the elements, such as workflow or task information that is specific to your needs.

For more information about how to use and customize the Backstage, see Customizing the Office 2010 Backstage View for Developers (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=184245).


The ribbon is at the top of the work area in the Office applications, which provides a consistent appearance and behavior. Tabs organize commands in logical groups. Along with the main tabs, which are always present on the screen, the ribbon provides contextual tabs that appear when you are working on a particular object (for example, a table, chart, or image). The contextual tabs provide the appropriate tools at the appropriate time for a particular object.

Two new features added to the extensibility model of the ribbon are tab activation and auto-scaling. Tab activation lets you activate a tab (bring a tab to the foreground) on demand. Auto-scaling enables ribbon groups to adapt their layout to best match the horizontal window size.

In Office 2010, the ribbon tabs can be easily customized by any user, without using programmatic means. To customize the commands listed on the ribbon, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Options, and then select Customize Ribbon.

  3. Choose the commands that you want to add or remove from the ribbon.

User customizations (including both ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar customizations) can be exported as a single Office UI file. This file can be imported by another user, or can be provided for an enterprise-level deployment by using the Office Customization Tool (OCT). The OCT settings only provide initial defaults and users can still use the application UI to change the settings afterward. To prevent end-user customization, we recommend that you use Group Policy.


For information about how to configure settings by using the OCT, see Configure user settings for Office 2010. The OCT does provide an option to add a file. For more information about how to add a file by using the OCT, see the Additional content section in Office Customization Tool in Office 2010.
You can set or clear administrative policies related to the Office Fluent UI by using the Group Policy Management Console.

For new users to the Office 2010 UI, the game Ribbon Hero can be a fun way to learn new tools while improving your productivity with Office. This concept test is an add-in for Word, PowerPoint and Excel that helps you increase your Office skills while you play games, score points, and compete with friends via an optional Facebook application. To download the free game from the Microsoft Office Labs, see Ribbon Hero game (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=184740\&clcid=0x409).

Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar provides a way to put the commands and buttons that you use most often within easy reach. By default, the Quick Access Toolbar appears above the ribbon on the application title bar. However, users can chose to move it below the ribbon.

The Quick Access Toolbar can be easily customized by users to accommodate their working environment. To customize the commands listed on the Quick Access Toolbar, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Options, and then select Quick Access Toolbar.

  3. Choose the commands that you want to add or remove from the Quick Access Toolbar.

User settings (including both ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar customizations) can be exported to be used by another user, or you can choose to import another customized file from this location. For more information, see Deploying a Customized Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar in Office 2010 (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=184247).