How Do You Write Orbital Notation?

Write the orbital notation for any element by using the information on the periodic table to determine the number of electrons in each orbital. Orbitals are represented by the letters s, p, d and f.

  1. Locate the element on the periodic table

    Find the total number of electrons for an element on the periodic table.

  2. Move across and down to place electrons in the orbitals

    Beginning with the first element, hydrogen, in the upper-left of the table, count out the number of elements in each orbital. Count columns of alkali metals for the s-orbitals, transition metals for d-orbitals, main group elements for p-orbitals and Lanthanides and Actinides for f-orbitals.

  3. Write the orbital level, type and total electrons present

    As you move across the periodic table, notate the electrons by first listing the level of the orbital and then listing the type of orbital. After the letter, use superscript to show how many electrons are present in that level of the orbital. For example, 1s^2 is the proper notation for helium, with the numeral “1” representing the first orbital level, “s” representing the type of orbital and the exponent “2” showing that there are two electrons in that orbital. In addition, 1s^1 represents hydrogen because the exponent shows that orbital holds only one electron.

  4. Reach the element on the periodic table

    When you reach the specified element on the periodic table, the notation is complete.