Periodic Table – Outermost Electron Orbitals


This Periodic Table shows the general relationship of each element’s outermost electron orbitals.

Outer Orbital Block Periodic Table

Periodic Table of the Elements showing the outermost electron blocks of the elements. Click the image to zoom.

You can see the trends easily with this table. As the atomic number increases, s orbitals are filled first, followed by p orbitals. The transition elements are the beginning of filling the d orbitals and the lanthanides and actinides have enough electrons to populate f orbitals. Remember:

  • s orbitals can contain two electrons.
  • pĀ orbitals can contain 8 electrons
  • d orbitals can contain 10 electrons
  • f orbitals can contain 14 electrons

This table also gives a clue to why the table is not just a rectangular column of elements but instead has gaps across the top. You can also see why the lanthanides and actinides are often included underneath the main body of the Periodic Table. If they were included with the same pattern, the table would be much wider.

The transition element gap on the table is 10 elements wide. This corresponds to the d orbitals that are filled by the electrons of these elements. The same goes for lanthanides and actinides. There are fourteen lanthanides and actinides filling the f blocks across the bottom.

If you are looking for a Periodic Table of the Elements with electron configurations for each element, check out this Color Periodic Table with Electron Configurations.


About Todd Helmenstine

Todd Helmenstine is the physicist/mathematician who creates most of the images and PDF files found on sciencenotes.org. Nearly all of the graphics are created in Adobe Illustrator, Fireworks and Photoshop. Todd also writes many of the example problems and general news articles found on the site.