Wall Street Prep

Ribbon Guide Shortcuts for Investment Bankers

Complete PowerPoint Training

PPT Ribbon Guides Introduction

In this article you will learn the first part of Microsoft’s newest keyboard shortcut system for PC users, what I call Ribbon Guides.

At the time of this writing, Ribbon Guides only work on PC versions of Microsoft PowerPoint. If you’re using a Mac computer, I recommend either running a program like Parallels or getting a cheap PC to do all of your PowerPoint tasks on Windows (you will thank me later).

For a full explanation of what these shortcuts are, and to take my Ribbon Guide challenge, watch the short video below.

To learn my best PowerPoint strategies, shortcuts and tricks for Investment Bankers and Consultants, see my PowerPoint Crash Course.


Get our Top 25 PowerPoint Shortcut Cheat Sheet

Submitting ...

Ribbon Guide Shortcuts Basics

As a quick recap, here is where you now are on the PowerPoint Shortcut Mountain.

Ribbon Guide shortcuts are visible keyboard shortcuts that allow you to visually access any command or feature that exists in your PowerPoint Ribbon.

The great thing about these shortcuts are you do not need to memorize them to immediately start taking advantage of them.

While these are Microsoft’s newest keyboard shortcuts, they are still over 10 years old. And yet, very few people know how to effectively use them!

That’s why I want to make sure you learn them in this mini-series.

Microsoft introduced the Ribbon Guide shortcuts to the Microsoft Office suite in November 2006, and their common characteristics are:

  1. You do not need to hold them down to make them work
  2. Hitting the Alt key activates them (PC versions of PowerPoint only)
  3. The letters are followed forwards
  4. Hitting Esc on your keyboard walks you back a level
  5. Hitting the Alt key (a second time) closes them

Hitting and letting go of the Alt key on your keyboard activates your Ribbon Guides, which label each of your Ribbon tabs with letters, as you can see in the picture below.

Pressing down one of these letters on your keyboard not only opens its respective tab, but it also populates all of the commands within it with new letters you can use to access them.

For example, hitting Alt and then H opens the Home tab as pictured below.

In the same way, you can continue to follow your Ribbon Guides into dropdown menus and all those commands will also populate with Ribbon Guide shortcuts.

Hopefully you are beginning to see how amazing these are!

And the simple reason these shortcuts will save you so much time is that they allow you to access any command or feature in PowerPoint, including those that otherwise don’t have shortcuts associated with them.

Below are a few examples of Ribbon Guide shortcuts that will speed up some of the repetitive everyday tasks you will have to perform as you build and edit slides in PowerPoint.

Ribbon Guides for Bullet Points and Numbered Lists

The next time you want to add or remove bullet points or select an object, instead of navigating to the bullet point dropdown menu using your mouse, you can hit Alt, H, U instead.

Hitting Alt, H, U pops open the menu and allows you to navigate the different options using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

The same is true if you want to add or remove a numbered list in PowerPoint. Instead of grabbing your mouse and finding the numbered list menu in your Ribbon, simply hit Alt, H, N to quickly open it up.

  1. Bullet points – Alt, H, U
  2. Numbered lists – Alt, H, N

Ribbon Guides to your Slide Master

Another great use for your Ribbon Guide shortcuts is to jump around the different Views of PowerPoint.

Two of my most frequently used Ribbon Guides are for jumping back and forth between the Slide Master View and the Normal View.

  1. Slide Master – Alt, W, M
  2. Normal View – Alt, W, L

There are other shortcuts for doing this, like the Hybrid Power Shortcut I shared earlier in this series (read Hybrid Power Shortcuts), but these Ribbon Guide shortcuts are what I most frequently use.

Alt, W, M will take you to the Slide Master View where you can make macro level changes to your slide layouts and presentation.

When you are finished, simply hit Alt, W, L to jump back to the Normal View.

Once you get used to using these, it takes a split second to jump back and forth between the views without even having to think about it.

Ribbon Guides for Font Styles and Font Sizes

Another great use of your Ribbon Guide shortcuts in PowerPoint, Word or Excel is to change your Font Style and/or your Font Size.

  1. Font Style – Alt, H, FF
  2. Font Size – Alt, H, FS

On top of that, if you first use the Alt, H, FF shortcut to jump into your Font Style dropdown menu to change your Font Style, you can then simply hit the Tab key on your keyboard to jump to the Font Size input box.

Talk about ninja keyboard skills!

Ribbon Guides for changing your layouts

One of my favorite Ribbon Guide shortcuts is the layout dropdown menu on the Home tab.

If you are using a properly built PowerPoint template, the Layout menu allows you to quickly change the layout your slide uses, while pushing all of your content into the proper placeholders.

To use this shortcut, simply hit Alt, H, L on your keyboard. With the dropdown menu open, you can then use your arrow keys to choose the layout you want and hit Enter on your keyboard to select it.


So those are your Ribbon Guide shortcuts; and remember, they only work on PC versions of Microsoft PowerPoint.

It’s important to keep in mind that while you can access any command or feature in PowerPoint using your Ribbon Guides, they are not always the best shortcuts to use, as we’ll discuss in the next article.

Up Next …

In the next lesson we’ll dig deeper into some Ribbon Guide Strategies

By Taylor Croonquist
I’ve had millions of dollars of funding riding on PowerPoint pitch books and proposals that needed to be perfect, and I was sick of working on them until 3AM in the morning only to have a boss or client decide to change 90% of it when they reviewed it the next morning. So I geeked out on PowerPoint: I joined groups, bought books, went to conferences and worked backwards through everything I thought I knew. I took the most time intensive tasks that waste your time and figured out how to get PowerPoint to do them for you. After more than a decade of pursuing PowerPoint proficiency, I’m excited to teach it to you!
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Learn PowerPoint Online

Strategies and techniques for building better pitchbooks, client decks and other presentations with precision and speed.

Learn More

The Wall Street Prep Quicklesson Series

7 Free Financial Modeling Lessons

Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers. Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts.