There should be a way to look at all the ribbons and their effects in-game.
A possible option would be to have all ribbons visible on the ribbon screen (except some super-secret special ones), however they will be grayed out until you earn them. Mousing over a ribbon will tell you how to earn it, your progress to earning it, and its rewards.
As you earn awards, they will stack up as normal, nut just becoming opaque. For the really OCD among us, there could even be a button to hide unearned ribbons (STOLEN VALOR!)
For folks that do not live on these forums so that they catch all the game secrets it is a very good idea to have a Ribbon and Award page for every game just like almost any other game has.
I like that last part too. However some ribbons do not make immediate game sense like the Operation Cobra Ribbon and are therefore almost impossible to get if no previous knowledge on “How -To” is available.