Too-Big Toolbars

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 16, 2016)


If you are one of those people who happily customize Word to look and behave exactly as you want (not as the people in Redmond want), you may have noticed that you cannot create multi-row toolbars. While it appears you can create multiple rows in a toolbar when you have the Customize dialog box open, as soon as the dialog box goes away, your toolbar reverts to a single row.

The reason for this is quite simple--Word will not allow you to create multi-row toolbars, when the toolbar is docked (attached) to one of the sides of your program window. Instead, Word calculates how many toolbar buttons can be displayed in a single row of the toolbar, and then displays only that many. In Word 97, the setting of the Priority property for each button object determines which buttons are displayed. Those with the highest Priority property are given priority and are displayed first. The Priority property cannot be set using the Customize dialog box, however; it can only be set using VBA.

Word 2000, Word 2002, and Word 2003 handle toolbars a bit differently. If there are too many tools to fit on a given toolbar, it adds a small down-arrow at the end of the toolbar. Clicking on the down-arrow displays the tools that could not be displayed and allows you to pick one of them.

There are several ways around the limitations placed on toolbars by Word. One is rather obvious--make multiple toolbars instead of multiple rows. This allows you to dock the two (or more) toolbars right next to each other, effectively creating "multiple rows" of multiple toolbars.

The other option is to drag the toolbar from the side of program window so it is not docked. When the toolbar is free-floating, it can be configured to a rectangle that easily contains all of your desired tools. The drawback to this, of course, is that a floating toolbar can be distracting as you create your document.

If neither of these options is acceptable, you can always change your screen resolution to a higher setting. Changing screen resolution is done within Windows, of course, and depends on the capabilities of your video card and monitor. Changing to a higher resolution allows you to fit more information across the width of the screen, although the size of each screen element will appear smaller.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1299) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is one minus 0?

2016-07-16 05:25:57

Steve Wells

I follow (in the extreme) the above recommendation to set a higher screen resolution. Users who might want to work at the highest readily available single-screen resolution, as I do, are welcome to (and should) ask for advice before going to the leading/bleeding edge of current technology.

I run a (pricy) Geforce GTX 980 video card via an HDMI 2 cable (also pricy) to a 48” UHD (4K) TV as a wall-mounted monitor just above my desk. This provides a resolution of 3840×2160. With Word maximized and two rows of toolbars below the menu, I keep available at all times 178 toolbar buttons including several long buttons for style, font name, and markup review. There is still plenty of unused space available for approximately 112 more buttons, so I’d max out my two rows at around 390 buttons—if I went nuts enough to try to fill them up. Just about any command, style, font, custom VBA function, &c. available with a single click.

Though my ultra-sized workspace is delightful, beware of subtle potential downsides/gotchas (besides cost) if you follow along to the edge.

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