2.5 Contextual Tabs / Customizing the Ribbon – Intro to Excel 2016

Contextual Tabs
Besides the standard tabs, Excel also uses contextual tabs. Whenever a graphical object such as a chart is selected, specific tab(s) and toolbar for working with that object are made available to the Ribbon.
For example, if you create a chart for its associated table and then click on the chart with a mouse, Excel will immediately add a contextual tab section to the Ribbon, called Chart Design and Format tabs, as shown in FIGURE 2. It should be emphasized this contextual tab will only appear when you click on the object with your mouse. When you click on a chart or another graphical object, you will see an outline of the object with sizing handles (circles). Besides showing that the object has been selected, these sizing handles are used for changing the object’s size (FIGURE 1). These contextual tabs are temporary and will remain on the Ribbon until you click off of the object with your mouse. There are several contextual tabs available in Excel. This is only one example of them.  


For example, if you create a chart (FIGURE 1) and then click on the chart with a mouse, Excel will immediately add a contextual tab section to the Ribbon, called “Chart Design” and “Format” tabs, as shown in FIGURE 2.

If, at any time, you click a cell outside of the chart, these contextual tabs will disappear from the Ribbon. Contextual tabs will only remain on the Ribbon as long as you do not click your mouse off the chart. 

                    FIGURE 2

Chart Design Tab Toolbar

This toolbar appears when you select the Chart Design contextual tab shown below (FIGURE 3).


Chart Format Tab Toolbar

​This toolbar appears when you select the Chart Format contextual tab shown below in FIGURE 4.

Contextual Tabs Used with Other Objects
Contextual tabs can become visible when other inserted objects besides charts are clicked on with a mouse. Here are some examples:

  • Tables
  • Shapes
  • Icons
  • 3D Models
  • SmartArt

If we inserted a shape such as an arrow and we clicked on that arrow with a mouse we will also see contexual tabs. In this example, we have inserted a block arrow by selecting Insert tab, Shapes, Block arrows. When we click on the block arrow with a mouse we see the following toolbar with contextual tab visible. It should be remembered that you must click on the contextual tab with a mouse to see the associated toolbar for that object, as shown below:

​Shape block arrow object selected below (FIGURE 5):

      FIGURE 5
Shape Format Contextual Tab Toolbar (FIGURE 6)
​In the example below, we have inserted a SmartArt object by selected Insert tab, SmartArt. SmartArt object selected below (FIGURE 7):
SmartArt Design Contextual Tab Toolbar (for brevity, we only show 1 of the 2 toolbars available) (FIGURE 8)
Customizing the Ribbon



Important Note: In Excel 2013, the contextual tabs Chart Tools appearance on the Ribbon was visible by default. With Excel 2016, the Chart Tools are not enabled by default; you must customize the Ribbon to enable them to be visible. On the Customize the Ribbon dialog box shown in FIGURE 9, on the right-section up at the top section, “Customize the Ribbon”, select the down arrow and on the drop-down menu, select All Tabs. In the box below, check the boxes for “Chart Tools” including “Chart Design” and “Format”.
Customization Instructions
  1. On the Ribbon, select the File tab. This will take you to the Backstage View.  From the left side select Options. Select Customize Ribbon (or right-button mouse click anywhere on the Ribbon that is vacant of an icon, select Customize Ribbon).
  2. Select the feature desired from the list of features on the left side. On the right side window, select a Tab and Group you would like to add the new feature to. Press the Add button. Selected feature will appear under the Tab/Group selected.
  3. To add a new Tab and Group to the Ribbon and then add the new feature to it, on the right side window at the bottom select New Tab. A new unnamed tab will appear (it will read New Tab (Custom)). Click on New Tab (Custom) to highlight it. Select the Rename button at the bottom and enter a name. When it created the unnamed tab, it also created an unnamed group underneath it, called New Group (Custom). Click on New Group (Custom) to highlight it. Select the Rename button again and enter a name for it.
  4. Select the feature(s) you wish to add from the list of features listed on the left side. Press the Add button. Your new feature will appear underneath the new group you recently created.
Module 2 completed. Take quiz for Module 2 here.