Periodic Table Groups and Periods

Periodic Table Groups and Periods
A periodic table group is a column, while a periodic table period is a row.

Groups and periods organize elements on the periodic table of the elements. A group is a vertical column down the periodic table, while a period is a horizontal row across the table. Both groups and periods reflect the organization of electrons in atoms. Element atomic number increases as you move down a group from top to bottom or across a period from left to right.

  • An element group is a vertical column on the periodic table. Atoms in a group share the same number of valence electrons.
  • An element period is a horizontal row on the periodic table. Atoms in a period have the same number of electron shells.

Element Groups

Elements within the same group share the same number of valence electrons. The number of valence electrons depends on the octet rule. For example, elements in group 1 have 1 valence electron, elements in groups 3-12 have a variable number of valence electrons, and elements in group 17 have 7 valence electrons. The lanthanides and actinides, located below the main table, all fit within group 3.

There are 18 element groups. Elements in the same group share common chemical and physical properties. For example, the group 1 elements are all soft, reactive metals. The group 17 elements are highly reactive, colorful nonmetals.

IUPAC NameCommon NameFamilyOld IUPACCASnotes
Group 1alkali metalslithium familyIAIAsometimes excludes hydrogen
Group 2alkaline earth metalsberyllium familyIIAIIA 
Group 3 transition metalsscandium familyIIIAIIIB 
Group 4 transition metalstitanium familyIVAIVB 
Group 5 transition metalsvanadium familyVAVB 
Group 6 transition metalschromium familyVIAVIB 
Group 7 transition metalsmanganese familyVIIAVIIB 
Group 8 transition metalsiron familyVIIIVIIIB 
Group 9 transition metalscobalt familyVIIIVIIIB 
Group 10 transition metalsnickel familyVIIIVIIIB 
Group 11coinage metalscopper familyIBIB 
Group 12volatile metalszinc familyIIBIIB 
Group 13icoasagensboron familyIIIBIIIA 
Group 14tetrels, crystallogenscarbon familyIVBIVAtetrels from the Greek tetra for four
Group 15pentels, pnictogensnitrogen familyVBVApentels from the Greek penta for five
Group 16chalcogensoxygen familyVIBVIA 
Group 17halogensfluorine familyVIIBVIIA 
Group 18noble gases, aerogenshelium family or neon familyGroup 0VIIIA 

Alternate Group Classification System

Sometimes chemists classify element groups according to shared properties, which do not strictly adhere to individual columns. These groups go by the names alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, transition metals, basic metals, nonmetals, halogens, noble gases, lanthanides, and actinides. Under this system, hydrogen is a nonmetal. The nonmetals, halogens, and noble gases are all types of nonmetals. The metalloids have properties intermediate between metals and nonmetals. The alkali metals, alkaline earths, lanthanides, actinides, transition metals, and basic metals are all groups of metals.

Element Periods

Elements within a period share the same number of electron shells and the same highest unexcited electron energy level. Elements within a period display periodic table trends, moving from left to right, involving atomic and ionic radius, electronegativity, There are seven element periods. Some periods contain more elements than others because the number of included elements depends on the number of electrons allowed in an energy sublevel. Note that the lanthanides are within period 6 and the actinides are in period 7.

  • Period 1: H, He (does not follow the octet rule)
  • Period 2: Li, Be, B, C, N, O, F, Ne (involves s and p orbitals)
  • Period 3: Na, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Cl, Ar (all have at least 1 stable isotope)
  • Period 4: K, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ga, Ge, As, Se, Br, Kr (first period with d-block elements)
  • Period 5: Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Nb, Mo, Tc, Ru, Rh, Pd, Ag, Cd, In, Sn, Sn, Te, I, Xe (same number of elements as period 4, same general structure, and includes the first exclusively radioactive element, Tc)
  • Period 6: Cs, Ba, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Pm, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Hf, Ta, W, Re, Os, Ir, Pt, Au, Hg, Tl, Pb, Bi, Po, At, Rn (first period with f-block elements)
  • Period 7: Fr, Ra, Ac, Th, Pa, U, Np, Pu, Am, Cm, Bk, Cf, Es, Fm, Md, No, Lr, Rd, Db, Sg, Bh, Hs, Mt, Ds, Rg, Cn, Nh, Fl, Mc, Lv, Ts, Og (all elements are radioactive; contains heaviest natural elements and many synthesized elements)


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