Office 2016 – Better look and feel options for menus (ribbon)

This is the first thing you should do when you get Office 2016. There are three options available. Choose the one which suits you the best. Try each for few days if you are not sure. Here are the details…


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How to change the look and feel

File – Options – Office Theme. Three options. White is default. Theme changed in any one of the application immediately reflects in all other applications. So change is required only once.


Here are pros and cons of each type of look and feel. I am intentionally avoiding using the official name Office Theme because the concept of THEMES has a completely different and very important meaning in the context of Office. These three settings just change the look and feel of the Office UI.


This is the default. I don’t think anyone likes it. The entire menu structure is white in color. So is the background color of the main window. Therefore, it is difficult to visually understand where the menu ends and the document starts.


The advantage is that menus which appear on demand (like Picture Tools, Table Tools) show different colors. These colors are useful for quickly identifying the desired menu.


Dark Gray

All the background colors are dark gray. Menu buttons stand out nicely. Document has good contrast from the rest of the application so it stands out as well. As the amount of white is reduced, it reduces eye-strain. Good option if you use Office extensively on a daily basis.


The on-demand menus also get gray color. Their native colors are not shown.



Here the title bar and the ribbon tabs have the same color as the application itself. PowerPoint has red color, Excel has green and so on. The ribbon and the background area are light gray in color. This provides good contrast between the document and the user interface.


On-Demand menus also get the application color.


Recommended approach

Try all three. If you were using Office 2013 earlier, you are already used to White option. Try the other two. DO NOT make the choice immediately. Use each option for a few days and then decide.

Of course, you can always change the option anytime depending upon the work at hand and the expected duration for which you intend to work in that particular session.

For IT professionals, this option can be changed across the organization using Group Policy. Download the Office Group Policy files. There are 2000+ powerful and useful Office related settings which can be centrally controlled.


Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?