How to get back the MS Word ribbon

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One of the worst things that can happen when you are using your computer is for something to just suddenly disappear right in front of your eyes.  And then you wonder “how do I get it back”?  But it is going to be pretty difficult to bring it back, when you don’t know how or why it disappeared in the first place, right?

MS Word logo

That is something that can easily happen when you are using Microsoft Word.

When you are in a Word document, you usually will see all of the editing tools displayed at the top, in what is called the “ribbon“.  You have options like Home, Insert, Page Layout, References and more – and each of those has multiple  tools to choose from.  The ribbon looks like this (you can click to see it full size):

MS Word ribbon

What can easily happen is that you can accidentally hit a certain key combination, and suddenly your ribbon is just gone.  So you are left with a document that looks like this:

missing word ribbon

For a lot of users, this immediately inspires panic.  What happened?  How do I fix it?

Word ribbon disappeared

Fortunately, the fix is pretty easy:  just hold down the CTRL key and tap the F1 key.  Like magic – your ribbon is back!

In fact, it was the CTRL + F1 key combination that you accidentally hit to make it disappear in the first place.  You might even use that intentionally in the future – if you don’t use the ribbon very often, you can just click to make it disappear and you then have extra screen space for your document.  CTRL + F1 will always toggle it on and off.

A few more keyboard shortcuts for Word:

Ctrl + P = print

Ctrl + W = closes the current document but keeps Word open

Ctrl + Z = undo the last action

Ctrl + F = search the document for a word or phrase

Ctrl + X = Cut

Ctrl + C = Copy

Ctrl + V = Paste

There are lots more of course – these are just a few that I use all the time.

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March 11th, 2013

Sp what is the key combination to hide the ribbon, and will it work in Excel?

Scott Johnson
March 11th, 2013

Hi Rich – the key combination is the same to make it appear or disappear: Ctrl + F1. And yes, the same thing works for Excel.