The Periodic Table offers basic information about each one of the known chemical elements. Each element has its own box in the table, and these boxes include the element's atomic number, atomic weight and chemical symbol. An element's position on the table indicates which elements share its basic properties.
The Periodic Table is organized according to atomic number, which is equal to the number of protons found in the nuclei of an element's atoms. The rows on the table are known as periods, and the columns are known as groups. Elements in certain groups tend to share characteristics. For example, elements in Group 1, including lithium, sodium and potassium, are known as the alkali metals. They tend to lose electrons, forming positive ions. Elements in Group 18, including helium and neon, are known as the noble gases and tend to be inert or non-reactive.
An element's position in the table tells a lot about its properties. Elements on the left side of the table are mostly metals, and they all share certain characteristics, such as high melting points and the ability to conduct electricity. Elements on the right of the table are non-metals, which tend to form negative ions and lack a lustrous sheen. Those in the middle are known as semi-metals, displaying characteristics of both metals and non-metals.