One exceptional (unusual) element that I notice in the Office 2010 applications is that there are two tabs in their "fluent" or "ribbon" ux ideas, around Tables, named Design and Layout, which have a bar above them grouping them as "Table tools".

Does the Microsoft Fluent UI guidelines cover cases like this or was this a specific decision made by Microsoft's UX design team? My guess is that Design and Layout are english words that don't connote enough about them being table-related and so the MS OFFICE 2010 UI treats this as a special case:

Is this heading level above the tab names, used anywhere else, either by Microsoft or by others who use the Fluent user interface?

enter image description here

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    These are contextual tabs and they've been present in the Ribbon since Day 1. They are available to any non-text embedded elements (images, tables, text boxes, etc).
    – dnbrv
    Mar 5, 2012 at 14:59
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    Thanks dnbrv. Along with this link, that would be a good answer. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/…
    – Warren P
    Mar 5, 2012 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


Microsoft focuses on productivity, which is why the ribbon was introduced in 2007 version. Insted of using a popup window they let the user focus on content instead:

Contextualization reduces the number of commands a user must evaluate at any given time. Most of the commands in a program are object-based. By showing these commands only when an object is selected, the number of commands to learn and browse in the core tab set is reduced. As a result, the programs feel more manageable, and the UI feels more responsive and relevant.

Reference (figure 5) on this link: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338198.aspx

Edit: Looking at the image below, one can see that the table-tools is only visible if the table is selected (Sorry for the Swedish version of Microsoft Word). Difference between selected and not selected table

  • So in this context (Sorry!) contextualization refers to the way that the Table Tools "contextual tab" is visible ONLY when the user's document content contains a table, and the cursor focus is within that table, so the user is "working on that table". Right?
    – Warren P
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:46
  • @WarrenP That's right. I added an image to better show the difference between selected and not selected table. (Sorry for having the Swedish version of Microsoft Word installed) Mar 8, 2012 at 6:54

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