In Revit 2010 when you add or select an object, the “Element” ribbon panel should become active and visible on the top left.
When adding or highlighting an object, if you do not see the “Element” ribbon panel there may be graphics card management software overriding the window display.
Often when you install a graphics card driver you can also install control panel management software for the card. Two examples of this software would be “nView" by Nvidia or "HydraVision" from ATI.
If you have noticed this behavior in Revit 2010, I would recommend doing the following:
1. Close Revit 2010.
2. Disable the specific graphics card management software and make sure no software is attempting to control the position or graphics of windows.
3. Launch Revit 2010, and highlight an object to verify the Element Ribbon Panel displays as expected.
The Element panel should look similar to the image above. I hope this information is helpful for anyone who may be experiencing this behavior.