We derive the general shape equations in terms of Euler angles for an elastic model of uniform ribbon with noncircular cross section and vanishing spontaneous curvatures. We show that it has in general not a planar solution for a closed ribbon free of external force and torque. We study the conditions to form a helix with the axis along the direction of the applied force for a ribbon under external force and twisting. We find that if the bending rigidity is greater than the twisting rigidity, then no such helical rod can exist. Our stability analysis shows that a helical ribbon is in general stable or at least metastable under arbitrary force and torque. We find that the extension of the ribbon may undergo a discontinuous transition from a twisted straight rod to a helical ribbon. The intrinsic asymmetric elasticity of a helical ribbon under external torque is also studied.