Terms of the periodic table

Element Name

The purpose of the element name is obvious. The Periodic Table above and many others do not include element names. For those situations you must memorize the symbols that are related to each element name.

Element Symbol

Every element in the periodic table has a specific symbol that is used interchangeably with its name. For example, Hydrogen  has the symbol H and Florine has the symbol F. Most of the time symbols for each element can be easily identified  because they are in accord with the name of the element. However there are times when this may not be so. For example, Potassium has the symbol K.

Atomic Number

The periodic table is ordered in terms of atomic number. The atomic number is seen as the subscript adjacent to the symbol in the Periodic Table of the previous section.

As you move across a period the atomic number increases. Similarly, as you move down a group the atomic number increases. The most important reason for the ordering of the elements according to atomic number is that it yields elements in groups with similar chemical and physical properties. The atomic number of an element is the same as the number of protons in the nucleus, and also the same as the number of electrons surrounding the nucleus in a neutral state. Florine, for example, has nine protons and nine electrons.

Atomic Mass

The atomic mass of an element is seen as the superscript adjacent to a symbol in the Periodic Table of the previous section and is the total number of protons and neutrons in its nucleus. Florine for example has an atomic mass of 18 and atomic number of 9. This mean 9 protons and 9 neutrons.

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