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The AutoCAD Ribbon: Exploring the Features and Benefits of AutoCAD

Heidi Hewett
June 16, 2017

The AutoCAD Ribbon provides a compact palette with all the tools you need to create and edit your designs. It’s a great option for visual users, those that are new to AutoCAD, and even veteran AutoCAD users who want the most relevant tools at their fingertips when they need them! You can dock the Ribbon at the top or sides of the drawing area or you can have it float anywhere on your screen including a second monitor; you can control and customize the information displayed in the Ribbon to meet your needs.

Tabs and Panels

The Ribbon includes multiple tabs that are primarily organized by task, such as Insert, Annotate, and Manage, just to name a few. Each tab includes a set of panels that then further group the individual tools. For example, the Annotate tab includes Text, Dimensions, and Tables panels, among others. The most common tools are displayed in the main panels, but many of the panels can be expanded to display more, including access to relevant dialog boxes.

The AutoCAD Ribbon: Exploring the Features and Benefits of AutoCAD

You can control how much of the Ribbon is displayed by cycling through the Ribbon states. The default state displays the tabs, panels, and tools. You can even minimize all the way down to display only the tab names, maximizing the drawing area.

Tip: Drag panels onto your drawing area for persistent display even if the Ribbon is minimized.

Contextual Tools

One of the most powerful ways to use the Ribbon is to access relevant tools within the context of how you’re currently working. For example, if you select a layout, the Layout Ribbon tab with relevant tools is automatically added to the Ribbon and set current. If you double-click on an Mtext object, the Text Editor Ribbon tab is added. Those contextual tabs are automatically removed from the Ribbon when they’re no longer relevant to your current state of operation.

You can view all the contextual Ribbons in the Customize User Interface dialog box, and you can even modify whether and when they are accessed during a particular state of operation.

The AutoCAD Ribbon: Exploring the Features and Benefits of AutoCAD


While contextual Ribbon tabs temporarily “customize” the Ribbon based on your current operation, you may wish to further customize it. You can use the Customize User Interface dialog box to add, remove, and modify tabs, panels, and tools to meet your specific needs. For instance, you can remove tools you don’t use, and make the tools you use most often larger and faster to access.

The AutoCAD Ribbon: Exploring the Features and Benefits of AutoCAD

The AutoCAD Ribbon: Exploring the Features and Benefits of AutoCADMore on the Ribbon

About the Ribbon

To customize a Ribbon tab

Add your own panel to the AutoCAD Ribbon

Autodesk AutoCAD 2015 tutorial – Interfacing with the Ribbon

AutoCAD Ribbon – Understand the AutoCAD interface in 2016

Keep Exploring

Want to learn more? Check out all the benefits of AutoCAD on our Features page, or troubleshoot and get the details on previous software versions over on the Autodesk Knowledge Network.



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Heidi Hewett

Heidi Hewett has dedicated her career to educating people on the use of AutoCAD software. She began using AutoCAD as a student in 1986 and soon after earning her B.S. in Architectural Engineering, Heidi transitioned from an Autodesk customer to an Autodesk employee. During her career at Autodesk, Heidi has held a variety of positions including Product Support Technician, Training Specialist, and Senior Applications Engineer. In her current role as the AutoCAD Technical Marketing Manager, Heidi assists the marketing team in developing and delivering technical marketing material for AutoCAD. She continues to educate Autodesk customers, partners, and employees through Webcasts, seminars, and her AutoCAD Insider blog. It is her passion for education that inspired Heidi to earn an M.S. in Technical Communication and an M.A. in Information and Learning Technologies.