Software

How to add custom galleries to Word's QAT and ribbon for quick access

You can add a custom element to a gallery, but why stop there? If you frequently insert the same elements in your Word documents, add them to the QAT or the ribbon to speed the process.

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Image: iStock/Deagreez

Adding custom elements to galleries is easy to do—easier than you might think. But the feature doesn't stop there. Once your custom element is a building block, you can add it to Word's Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) or to a custom ribbon tab. Either way, you'll have fast access to the custom elements you use the most, unencumbered by the built-ins. We'll start by adding a simple header to a custom gallery using the Quick Parts feature. Once the element is part of that custom gallery, you can add it to the QAT or a ribbon tab as you would a macro.

I'm using Office 365 (desktop) on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but this technique will work in earlier versions. Specifically, you can add custom galleries to the QAT in Word 2007 and later. You can add galleries to the ribbon in Word 2010 and later. You can download the demonstration .docx file or work with your own document. This technique won't work in the browser edition. This article assumes that you're familiar with galleries and that you know how to create a simple header. If you'd like to start at the beginning of this series, read the following two articles first:

Add the custom element

Word offers a number of galleries—15 built-in galleries, 15 custom galleries that seem to duplicate the first 15, and five additional galleries, for good measure. You can customize the galleries to suit your needs. Before we can add a custom gallery to the QAT or the ribbon, we need to add a custom element to one of the custom galleries. To that end, we'll add the simple header element shown in Figure A to the Custom Headers gallery—not the Headers gallery, as you might expect.

Figure A

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Add this simple header to a custom gallery.

Now, let's get started:

  1. With the header open in edit mode press Ctrl+A to select everything in the header.
  2. Click the Insert tab and then choose Save Selection To Quick Part Gallery from the Quick Parts dropdown (n the Text group) or press Alt+F3.
  3. In the resulting dialog, name the element Header TR Logo. Galleries sort them alphabetically, but we won't be accessing the element from a gallery, so naming is a bit more flexible. However, you might consider adopting some naming conventions—consistency will be helpful if you work with lots of custom elements.
  4. From the Gallery dropdown, choose Custom Headers (Figure B). You'll have to scroll by the Headers gallery to find it.
  5. From the Category dropdown, choose Create New Category. Enter Logos for the category name (Figure C) and click OK.
  6. From the Options dropdown, choose Insert Content In Its Own Paragraph (Figure D).
  7. Click OK.

Figure B

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Choose Custom Headers instead of Headers.

Figure C

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Give the category a meaningful name.

Figure D

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You're ready to add your header to the Custom Headers gallery.

We're adding only one header element, but you could enter several. At this point, we're ready to add the gallery to the QAT.

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Add a custom gallery to the QAT

After adding elements to a gallery, you can access them from that gallery, but custom elements tend to get lost among all the built-in offerings. You might prefer to add a custom gallery that contains only the custom elements you use the most to the QAT for quicker access. You can do so as follows:

  1. From the QAT's dropdown, choose More Commands (Figure E).
  2. From the Choose Commands From dropdown, choose Commands Not In The Ribbon.
  3. Thumb down until you find Custom Header. Select it and then click Add (Figure F). (The interface drops the s from the gallery name; I have no explanation).
  4. Click OK to return to the document.

Figure E

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More Commands accesses the interface that lets you customize the QAT.

Figure F

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Add Custom Header to the QAT.

When you return to the document, you'll see that Word has added a new icon to the QAT. Click its dropdown to select the custom header you just added (Figure G). You can add more than one category to the QAT by adding new categories to the Custom Headers gallery. Word will sort the categories alphabetically in the dropdown gallery.

Figure G

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Your custom header is available via the QAT.

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Add a custom gallery to the ribbon

The QAT is a great place for a gallery you use often, but you won't want to add lots of them to the QAT—a busy QAT defeats its purpose. When you have lots of custom elements in numerous galleries and categories, consider adding a custom group to the ribbon for them. (This technique isn't available in Word 2007.) To begin, choose More Commands from the QAT's dropdown as you did before. In the Word Options dialog, choose Customize Ribbon in the left pane and then do the following:

  1. In the Main Tabs list (to the right under Customize The Ribbon), select Insert. We're adding the custom group to the Insert tab near the built-in options in the Header & Footer group.
  2. After selecting Insert, click New Group.
  3. With New Group still selected, click Rename.
  4. In the resulting dialog, enter Logos (Figure H). You can also choose a QAT icon by clicking any of the available symbols.
  5. Click OK.
  6. With the new group, Logos, still selected, choose Commands Not In The Ribbon from the Choose Commands From dropdown.
  7. Select Custom Header.
  8. Click Add to add the custom gallery to the new group you just created (Figure I).
  9. Click OK to return to the document.

Figure H

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Add a new group named Logos to the Insert tab.

Figure I

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Add the Custom Header gallery to the Logos group.

When you return to the document, click the Insert tab (if necessary) and you'll find a new group, Logos, as shown in Figure J. Click the Custom Header dropdown to easily access all the custom headers you add to the Custom Header gallery. Similarly to the QAT behavior, if you add categories, they'll appear alphabetically in the same dropdown gallery.

Figure J

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The custom header is available from your ribbon via the Logos custom group.

Gallery control

If you've followed our short three-article series, you now know how to add a custom element to one of Word's built-in galleries. You have an easy workaround for sorting your custom elements to the top of the gallery. And now, you can add custom headers to the QAT and the ribbon. That puts you in full control of accessing custom elements you insert frequently into documents.

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About Susan Harkins

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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