Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

Did you know?

We also have Bitesize study guides covering many subjects at National 4 and National 5 on our Knowledge & Learning BETA website.

Home > Chemistry > Elements and reactions > Periodic table


Periodic table

  • Page
  • 1
  • 2

The periodic table brings order to information about the chemical elements. It helps chemists to understand why elements react as they do.

What you need to know before you start this task:

You should understand the meaning of element, compound, atom [atom: All elements are made of atoms. An atom consists of a nucleus containing protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons. and molecule.

You should know that each element is represented by a symbol.

How elements are arranged in the periodic table (General)

  • There are more than 100 elements and they are arranged in the periodic table. Have a look at this part of the periodic table and think about how elements are arranged. Use the SQA data booklet to help you.
Periodic table, with group 1 to group 7 running in columns from left to right. Group 0 is the column in the far right. Group 1 are called alkali metals, group 7 are called halogens, group 0 are called noble gasses. The transition metals are in the middle block of the table.
  • The chemical elements are arranged in order of increasing atomic number [atomic number: The smallest particles into which an element can be divided and still be the same substance; the smallest unit of an element that has all the properties of that element; the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom..
  • The rows are called periods [periods: The periods of elements in the periodic table are the elements in which the same outer shell is being filled up. A period of elements in the periodic table all lie in the same row. and the columns are called groups [Groups: The groups of elements in the periodic table are the elements which have the same number of electrons in their outer shells and so have similar chemical properties. A group of elements all lie in same column in the periodic table..
  • Elements with similar chemical properties are in the same group of elements.

An example of a group in the periodic table is the alkali metal [alkali metals: The alkali metals are the elements in Group 1 of the periodic table. They have one electron in the outer shell. group. This video clip shows some of the reactions that occur with this group.

Video: Alkali metals

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed.

  • Page
  • 1
  • 2


Small part of periodic table visible, such as Lanthanum, Rb, Cs, Fr


Dive into the crazy kingdom of chemistry - play the games and charge your periodic power!


A screenshot periodic table

Class Clips

Video clip about the structure of the periodic table


Bottles containing noble gases.

Class Clips

Video clip about the noble gases

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.