To write a complete electron configuration for an uncharged atom,

Determine the number of electrons in the atom from its atomic number. (See Below.)

Add electrons to the sublevels in the correct order of filling.Add two electrons to each

ssublevel, 6 to eachpsublevel, 10 to eachdsublevel, and 14 to eachfsublevel.

To check your complete electron configuration, look to see whether the location of the last electron added corresponds to the elements position on the periodic table.

There are three ways to predict the order of filling of the orbitals. Probably the
*least* reliable method is to memorize the following list (even though it
shows the order of filling of all the orbitals necessary for describing the
ground state electron configurations of all of the known elements).

1

s2s2p3s3p4s3d4p5s4d5p6s4f5d6p7s5f6d 7p

Instead of relying on memorization, you can use the memory aid shown below to remind you of the correct order of filling of the sublevels. The following steps explain how to write it and use it yourself.

- Write the possible sublevels for each energy level in organized rows and columns like the image below.
To do this, you need to remember that there is one sublevel on the
first principal energy level, two on the second, three on the third, etc.
Every principal energy level has an
*s*orbital. The second principal energy and all higher energy levels have a*p*sublevel. The*d*sublevels start on the third principal energy level, the*f*sublevels start on the fourth principal energy level, etc. - Draw arrows like those you see below .
- Starting with the top arrow, follow the arrows one by one in the direction they point, listing the sublevels as you pass through them.
- The sublevels that are not needed for describing the known elements are enclosed in parentheses below .

We can also use the block
organization of the periodic table, as shown below, to remind us of
the order in which sublevels are filled. To do this, we move through the
elements in the order of increasing atomic number, listing new sublevels as we
come to them. The type of sublevel (*s*, *p*, *d*, or* f* )
is determined from the block in
which the atomic number is found. The number for the principal energy level (for
example, the 3 in 3*p*) is determined from the row in which the element is
found and the knowledge that the s sublevels start on the first principal
energy level, the *p* sublevels start on the second principal energy level,
the *d* sublevels start on the third principal energy level, and the *f
*sublevels start
on the fourth principal energy level.

Atomic numbers 3 and 4 are in the second row of the *s* block
(look for them in the bottom half of in image below), signifying that the 3rd and
4th electrons are in the 2*s* sublevel.

Atomic numbers 5 through 10 are in the first row of the *p*
block, and the *p* sublevels start on the second energy level. Therefore,
the 5th through 10th electrons go into the 2*p* sublevel.

Atomic numbers 11 and 12 are in the third row of the *s*
block, so the 11th and 12th electrons go into the 3*s* sublevel.

Because atomic numbers 13 through 18 are in the p block, we
know they go into a *p* sublevel. Because the *p* sublevels begin on
the second principal energy level and atomic numbers 13 through l8 are in the
second row of the *p* block, the 13th through 18th electrons must go into
the 3*p* sublevel.

The position of atomic numbers 19 and 20 in the fourth row of the *s *block and
the position of atomic numbers 21 through 30 in the first row
of the *d* block show that the 4*s* sublevel fills before the 3*d*
sublevel.

Moving through the periodic
table in this fashion produces the following order of sublevels up through 6*s*:

1

s2s2p3s3p4s3d4p5s4d5p6s

Notice that
atomic numbers 57 through 70 on the periodic table below are in the 4*f*
portion of the table. It is a common mistake to forget that the 4*f*
sublevel is filled after the 6*s* sublevel and before the 5*d*
sublevel. In order to make the overall shape of the table more compact and
convenient to display, scientists have adopted the convention of removing the
elements with atomic number 57 through 70 and 89 through 102 (the latter being
the 5*f* portion of the table) from their natural position between the *s*
and *d* blocks and placing them at the bottom of the table. Electrons go
into the 5*f* sublevel after the 7*s* sublevel and before the 6*d*
sublevel. The second periodic table
below shows how the blocks on the
periodic table would fit together if the inner transition metalsthe* f*
blockwere left in their natural position.