Science, Tech, Math › Science Identifying Element Blocks on the Periodic Table Share Flipboard Email Print ThoughtCo / Todd Helmenstine Science Chemistry Periodic Table Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated April 05, 2020 One way to group elements is by element blocks, sometimes known as element families. Element blocks are distinct from periods and groups because they were developed based on a very different way of categorizing atoms. What Is an Element Block? An element block is a set of elements located in adjacent element groups. Charles Janet first applied the term (in French). The block names (s, p, d, f) originated from descriptions of spectroscopic lines of atomic orbitals: sharp, principal, diffuse, and fundamental. No g-block elements have been observed to date, but the letter was chosen because it is next in alphabetical order after f. Which Elements Fall Into Which Block? Element blocks are named for their characteristic orbital, which is determined by the highest energy electrons: S-block: The first two groups of the periodic table, the s-block metals: Are either alkali metals or alkaline earth metals.Are soft and have low melting points.Are electropositive and chemically active. P-block: P-block elements include the last six element groups of the periodic table, excluding helium. The p-block elements include all of the nonmetals except for hydrogen and helium, the semimetals, and the post-transition metals. P-block elements: Include carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, halogens, and many other common elements.Interact with other chemicals by losing, gaining, or sharing the valence electrons.Mostly form covalent compounds (though the halogens form ionic compounds withs-block metals). D-block: D-block elements are transition metals of element groups 3-12. D-Block elements: Have valence electrons in their two outermost and shells.D-block elements behave in a manner that is somewhere between that of highly reactive electropositive alkali metals and the covalent compound forming elements (which is why they are called "transition elements").Have high melting and boiling points.Typically form colored salts.Are generally good catalysts. F-block: Inner transition elements, usually the lanthanide and actinide series, including lanthanum and actinium. These elements are metals which have: High melting points.Variable oxidations states.The ability to form colored salts. G-block (proposed): G-block would be expected to include elements with atomic numbers higher than 118.