A Useful List of the Periodic Table of Elements

(Last Updated On: December 17, 2020)

If you didn’t study the physical sciences after high school (or you did and hate them anyway), the “periodic table” is probably one of the more anxiety-inducing terms that can get thrown at you. Either that or like… derivatives or something. But let’s do a run through of the periodic table in list form, because reading a table that’s not even shaped like a square is weird.

How Do You Read the Darn Thing?

You should know that the elements on the periodic table are sorted into a bunch of categories based on where they are on the periodic table. Plus, you’re probably pretty comfy just reading a big list of 118 elements. Less intuitive, though, is that these categories aren’t in numerical order on the table. You can see them color coded on the table here, but we’ll list them below as well.

This is just straight from Wikipedia, for reference.

Why aren’t they sorted in order? Well it’s because the number of each element indicates, broadly, how much it weighs. Specifically the atomic number of each element tells us how many protons are inside the nucleus of each atom of that element. Hydrogen, for example, is atomic number 1, it’s just a proton. 

If you’re studying the periodic table in an introductory high-school-or-college-class setting, you straight up don’t care about most of the elements. Whoever taught (or will) teach you introductory chemistry will probably tell you the same thing. Most people also can only really think of the alkali metals, halogens, noble gases, and other nonmetals anyway–which are the ones you were probably told to remember in high school. 

Alkali Metals

In practice, alkali metals are shiny and relatively soft. Like really, you can cut into them with a knife pretty easily. How reactive are they? Very. You probably heard of what happens when you dump any of these elements into water. If you didn’t, they explode or otherwise make fire. The heavier the alkali, the more intense the reaction. We’re at the point where most of these have to be stored in oil. They’ll react with air otherwise. 

  • 3 – Lithium (Li)
  • 11 – Sodium (Na)
  • 19 – Potassium (K)
  • 37 – Rubidium (Rb)
  • 55 – Caesium (Cs)
  • 87 – Francium (Fr)

Alkaline Earth Metals

All these guys exist in nature, with the exception of radium. It occurs as a product of heavier elements decaying. More fun facts about chemistry, and why you were told to only care about like 20 elements, that’s why. There are a ton of general rules, until there aren’t because almost every rule has a handful of exceptions. Radium is one of them.

Anyway, the next alkaline earth metal will be numbered 120. We haven’t gotten there yet, and all attempts to make it have been unsuccessful. Most high-numbered elements are like this, we have to make them and when we do they don’t last very long (like fractions of a fraction of a second).

Alkaline earth metals are known for reacting pretty well with halogens to make alkaline earth metal halides. They all react strongly with water as well! Except for beryllium, because everything is an exception. 

  • 4 – Beryllium (Be)
  • 12 – Magnesium (Mg)
  • 20 – Calcium (Ca)
  • 38 – Strontium (Sr)
  • 56 – Barium (Ba)
  • 88 – Radium (Ra)

Halogens

Halogens are, like alkali metals, super reactive. What makes them special is that they’re on the other end of the periodic table and they’re nonmetals. So they’re reactive for different reasons. Without getting too far into it, atoms have protons, neutrons, and electrons in them. Neurons and protons make up the big core (nucleus), while electrons zip around at lightspeed around the atom. Generally speaking, atoms like having net charges closer to zero, where each proton is a +1 and each electron is a -1, the net charge of the atom being the total sum of electrons subtracted from the sum of protons. 

Electrons also hover at different positions around the atom, creating electron shells. Alkali metals have a shell with just one electron (their outermost) while halogens have an incomplete shell missing just one electron (also their outermost). This outermost shell is called the valence shell. Atoms like having full shells a lot, which is why these two groups are so reactive–they’re inclined to fill the shells.

You probably know chlorine as that gas you should never breathe (or what’s in your pool), and fluorine as quite literally one of the most reactive elements. Because of that, fluorine is also super toxic.

Tennessine might not be a halogen though, and might actually behave more like a metalloid, because everything is an exception. Also it doesn’t exist for very long before decaying, so studying it is hard.

  • 9 – Fluorine (F)
  • 17 – Chlorine (Cl)
  • 35 – Bromine (Br)
  • 53 – Iodine (I)
  • 85 – Astatine (At)
  • 117 – Tennessine (Ts)

Noble Gases

Opposed to the previous elements that lack full valence electron shells, noble gases have full ones. Which, consequently, makes them super unreactive (barring extreme circumstances). Oganesson is probably a noble gas based on where its number would be in the periodic table, but as a synthetic element that decays too fast, we don’t really know.

  • 2 – Helium (He)
  • 10 – Neon (Ne)
  • 18 – Argon (Ar)
  • 36 – Krypton (Kr)
  • 54 – Xenon (Xe)
  • 86 – Radon (Rn)
  • 118 – Oganesson (Og)

Other Nonmetals

These are really just characterized by being not-metals like halogens, metalloids, and noble gases, but they’re just… Other. Less reactive than halogens, they’re still considered reactive nonmetals. Oh also, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen are super important because they make life work. Also, the Sun is actively fusing hydrogen atoms right now. Pretty cool.

  • 1 – Hydrogen (H)
  • 6 – Carbon (C)
  • 7 – Nitrogen (N)
  • 8 – Oxygen (O)
  • 15 – Phosphorus (P)
  • 16 – Sulfur (S)
  • 34 – Selenium (Se)

The Rest of Them

Transition Metals

  • 21 – Scandium (Sc)
  • 22 – Titanium (Ti)
  • 23 – Vanadium (V)
  • 24 – Chromium (Cr)
  • 25 – Manganese (Mn)
  • 26 – Iron (Fe)
  • 27 – Cobalt (Co)
  • 28 – Nickel (Ni)
  • 29 – Copper (Cu)
  • 30 – Zinc (Zn)
  • 39 – Yttrium (Y)
  • 40 – Zirconium (Zr)
  • 41 – Niobium (Nb)
  • 42 – Molybdenum (Mo)
  • 43 – Technetium (Tc)
  • 44 – Ruthenium (Ru)
  • 45 – Rhodium (Rh)
  • 46 – Palladium (Pd)
  • 47 – Silver (Ag)
  • 48 – Cadmium (Cd)
  • 72 – Hafnium (Hf)
  • 73 – Tantalum (Ta)
  • 74 – Tungsten (W)
  • 75 – Rhenium (Re)
  • 76 – Osmium (Os)
  • 77 – Iridium (Ir)
  • 78 – Platinum (Pt)
  • 79 – Gold (Au)
  • 80 – Mercury (Hg)
  • 104 – Rutherfordium (Rf)
  • 105 – Dubnium (Db)
  • 106 – Seaborgium (Sg)
  • 107 – Bohrium (Bh)
  • 108 – Hassium (Hs)
  • 109 – Meitnerium (Mt)
  • 110 – Darmstadtium (Ds)
  • 111 – Roentgenium (Rg)
  • 112 – Copernicium (Cn) 

Lanthanides

  • 57 – Lanthanum (La) Sometimes considered a transition metal
  • 58 – Cerium (Ce)
  • 59 – Praseodymium (Pr)
  • 60 – Neodymium (Nd)
  • 61 – Promethium (Pm)
  • 62 – Samarium (Sm)
  • 63 – Europium (Eu)
  • 64 – Gadolinium (Gd)
  • 65 – Terbium (Tb)
  • 66 – Dysprosium (Dy)
  • 67 – Holmium (Ho)
  • 68 – Erbium (Er)
  • 69 – Thulium (Tm)
  • 70 – Ytterbium (Yb)
  • 71 – Lutetium (Lu)

Actinides

  • 89 – Actinium (Ac) But only sometimes, others consider it a transition metal
  • 90 – Thorium (Th)
  • 91 – Protactinium (Pa)
  • 92 – Uranium (U)
  • 93 – Neptunium (Np)
  • 94 – Plutonium (Pu)
  • 95 – Americium (Am)
  • 96 – Curium (Cm)
  • 97 – Berkelium (Bk) 
  • 98 – Californium (Cf)
  • 99 – Einsteinium (Es)
  • 100 – Fermium (Fm)
  • 101 – Mendelevium (Md)
  • 102 – Nobelium (No)
  • 103 – Lawrencium (Lr) Sometimes considered a transition metal

Other Metals

  • 31 – Gallium (Ga)
  • 49 – Indium (In)
  • 50 – Tin (Sn)
  • 81 – Thallium (Tl)
  • 82 – Lead (Pb)
  • 83 – Bismuth (Bi)
  • 84 – Polonium (Po)
  • 113 – Nihonium (Nh)
  • 114 – Flerovium (Fr)
  • 115 – Moscovium (Mc)
  • 116 – Livermorium (Lv)

Metalloids

  • 14 – Silicon (Si)
  • 32 – Germanium (Ge)
  • 33 – Arsenic (As)
  • 51 – Antimony (Sb)
  • 52 – Tellurium (Te)

So now you know some elements, but what about some hazards? Test yourself here.

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About Kyler 563 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and has just finished his undergraduate at the University of Washington. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019 and has accumulated so much random, general knowledge he'd rather not think about it. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.