As Microsoft Excel has grown from its early versions, large numbers of functions have been added with each successive version. By the 2003 version of Excel, there were so many additional tools that the number of toolbars needed to hold them had started to become unworkable. In Excel 2007 the Ribbon was created and replaced the toolbar system that existed for all previous versions.

While the Ribbon is a much more workable solution than the old toolbar structure, we still have to jump from tab to tab within the ribbon to access the individual tools we need.

Given that we’ll seldom use most of the tools available within the ribbon, a handy tip is to create a new tab on the ribbon that contains those tools we use very frequently. So, instead of jumping from tab to tab looking for the tool we need, we can spend most of our time in one tab. It sounds like a small thing, but it’s a big boost to our productivity.

Here’s how to modify the Excel 2013 Ribbon.

On each Ribbon tab (such as the Home tab selected below) we find both commands and groups, as shown below.

 

In the Clipboard group we see the Paste, Cut, Copy, and Format Painter commands.

In the Font group we see the Bold, Italics and Underline commands, among others.

After using Excel 2013, we may find the need to add new groups to existing toolbars, or to create new Ribbon tabs.

To Create a New Ribbon Tab

  1. Point to any icon on the ribbon, right-click, and select Customise the Ribbon…

The Excel Options dialog box appears, as shown below:

 

 

We’ll create a new Ribbon tab called My tools, and we’ll position it between the Home tab and the Insert tab.

2     On the right-hand column, click on Home and then select New Tab (both circled)

 

A new tab has been created (New Tab) and a new group has been created within it (New Group). Our next task with be to rename the new tab and group.

 

To rename the New Tab

1    Click on New Tab (Custom), click on Rename and the Rename dialog box appears, as shown below:

  1. Enter the name of your custom tab (in this case My Tools) and click OK. The new tab is renamed, as shown below:

The next task is to populate the new tab with tools.

Populating the new Ribbon tab with tools

New tools (represented by icons) are entered into the groups that live within the tabs. At the moment, out group is called New Group. We’ll need a more descriptive name than this. Given that we’ll want to load some formatting tools into our group, we’ll rename the group Format.

To rename a group

  1. Click on New Group, then select Rename and the Rename dialog box appears, as shown below:
  2. Enter the name of your new group in the Display name box (Format, in this case) then press OK. The group has been renamed, as shown below:

To enter tools into the new group

Once we’ve renamed our group we can enter tools into the group.

  1. In the Excel Options dialog box, press the drop-down under Choose commands from: an select All Commands. This will give us access to the full palate of tools to choose from.
    After clicking on All Commands, you are able to see all tools available.
  2. Scroll down the list shown within the left-hand side column until you see the tools you wish to add to your Ribbon group, then click on that tool and select Add >>

Those tools have now been added to the Format group, as shown below:

 

In the image above we have added 5 tools to the Format group – Format Cells, Format Object, Format Painter, Format Picture and Format Selection

  1. Click OK to close the Excel Options dialog box

As you can see from the image below, a new tab has been created called My Tools, and within it we can see the tools we added in the previous step.

You can now go back into the Excel Options dialog box using the steps shown above, and more groups to your tab using the New Group button, and add tools to the new group.

About Paul Silverman