Metals and non-metals in the periodic table

In the periodic table:

  • metal elements are on the left of a stepped line starting at B-Al-Si
  • non-metal elements are on the right of the stepped line
Artwork of the Edexcel periodic table minus the numbers in the boxesMetals are on the left of the periodic table, and non-metals are on the right.

Atomic structure and the periodic table

Elements in group 1 and group 2 are metals. Atoms of group 1 elements have one electron in their outer shell, and atoms of group 2 elements have two electrons in their outer shell.

Elements in groups 6, 7 and 0 are non-metals. Atoms of group 7 elements have seven electrons in their outer shell, and atoms of group 0 elements, except helium, have eight electrons in their outer shell.

The reactions of elements are related to the number of electrons in their outer shells:

  • Atoms of metal elements give away electrons in their reactions to form positive ions. The ions formed have a full outer electron shell, so are very stable.
  • Atoms of non-metal elements gain electrons in some of their reactions to form negative ions. The ions formed have a full outer electron shell, so are very stable.

See the study guide on groups in the periodic table for more information.

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