The ribbon is the most important element in the Microsoft Word interface. It contains the vast majority of the commands that the program has to offer. These commands are arranged in a series of tabs. To activate a particular tab, simply click on its name. The commands displayed in each tab are related in some way. For example, the commands in the Home tab are those which are most frequently used in Microsoft Word: commands such as Cut, Copy And Paste and commands for changing the character and paragraph attributes of your text.
The Insert tab features commands for adding elements to your page such as tables, pictures, headers and footers.
The Page Layout tab is home to commands relating to the formatting of the page as a whole, such as the orientation and margins.
The References tab contains a number of options for adding references to longer documents such as tables of contents and indexes.
The Mailings tab has controls for creating mail merge documents. Mail merge involves a combination of a data document, which normally contain a list of recipients, with a main document, which is normally a letter, to produce a series of personalised mail merge documents which can then be sent out to each recipient.
In the Review tab, you will find tools for proofing your document. Here, you can check your spelling and grammar and also you have tools for reviewing a document by inserting comments and then tracking these comments as the document is passed from person to person.
The View tab contains all the options for displaying the document in various ways. It also houses controls for zooming in and out
Finally, the developer tab contains controls for recording, creating and editing macros and Visual Basic.
The controls in each tab are arranged into groups. For example, the groups in the Home tab are labelled Clipboard, Font, Paragraph, Styles and Editing. As always in Microsoft applications, placing the mouse over a control displays a tool-tip. In the case of Office 2007, these tool-tips are pretty extensive. They contain a description of how the control works, what it does and the keyboard shortcut which is equivalent to clicking on that control.
As well as the regular ribbon tabs, Word also contains context sensitive tabs. These are tabs which only appear in a certain context, typically when a certain type of object has focus. For example, whenever you insert a table, you will notice that Word immediately displays two context sensitive tabs relating to tables: Design and Layout. As long as an area within the table is highlighted, these tabs will remain visible and they behave in exactly the same way as the regular tabs. However, as soon as you click outside the table to deselect it, the context sensitive tabs relating to tables will disappear.