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Access Ribbon

The new Access 2007 Ribbon is a band of icons running across the top of the database screen. Each icon represents what used to be an item or function on the old drop down menus used in earlier versions of Access. This means that you no longer have to click on a menu to get a list of options to choose from; the same options can now be seen above whatever it is that you are working on.

There are a number of different Ribbons, each having its own particular theme. So for example there are individual Ribbons entitled Home, Create, External Data, and Database Tools. These are selected by clicking on the appropriate tab.

Access Ribbon

Ribbons are also context sensitive. Access automatically selects the most suitable Ribbon for whatever you happen to be working on at the time. This might involve presenting you with a new ribbon that isn't normally available. An example of this is the Design ribbon which appears by default when you select the Design view for a database object such as a Form or Table.

Access Design Ribbon

Each Ribbon has sets of related icons organised into groups. The Create ribbon, for example, has a set of icons related to the creation of database objects. These icons are then grouped into items relating to Tables, Forms, Reports and 'Other'. Let's look at the Tables group. There are four icons here relating to Access database Table functions: there is one to Create a New Blank Table, Create a Table using a Template, Create a table Linked to a SharePoint List, and Create a New Blank Table in Design View.

Tables group on the Access Create Ribbon

Icons are also context sensitive like the Ribbons themselves. So, for example, if you select a particular Ribbon which has function that is not relevant to what you are working on, the Icon for that function will be grayed out and cannot be clicked. This might happen if you are working on a Table and have the Database Tools ribbon selected. In this case there would be a couple of icons which would not be relevant (eg Convert Macros to Visual Basic), so they would not be available for selection.

The new Access 2007 Ribbon can be described as operating in an intuitive manner. As we have already seen the ribbons and icons that you are presented with are relevant to the work you are doing at any time so we do not need to look through different menu layers to find a particular item. In addition to this, the most commonly used features appear as large icons while those that are less common appear small. So while the Access 2007 Ribbon has many of the old features that were available in previous versions of Access (with a number of new features included), the new Ribbon is designed to be more user friendly.