In the course of my undergraduate studies it has become clearer and clearer that it is quite helpful to know the ground electronic state of transition metals by heart, if only to speed up the process of analysing a reaction or to evaluate a compound in respect to its number of valence electrons.

Edit: Note that when I say ground electronic state, I don't mean the state in vacuum, but when the metal is bonding to ligands. As a consequence all the electrons are found in the $d$ orbitals.

My Method: I have now put the $d$-Block of the periodic table as a wallpaper on my screen background so I get constantly exposed to the arrangement of the elements.

What is your way to memorize what metals have which $d^x$ ground state?

  • $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, is any example that the difference between Fe 3d$^6$4s$^2$ and Ru 4d$^7$5s$^1$ produces significant consequence for analysing reaction? $\endgroup$ – user26143 Dec 3 '13 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ @user26143 I don't know if there's a direct chemical consequence from the differences in atomic ground states, but there certainly are consequences from the reason the ground states are different in the first place - the anomalous compactness of 3d orbitals relative to 4d ones. $\endgroup$ – Nicolau Saker Neto Dec 3 '13 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ Question edited for clarification in this regard. $\endgroup$ – tschoppi Dec 3 '13 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know if it is worthwhile for perfectly memorizing electronic configuration, since there are many subtleties in transition metals. More important, the electronic configuration of metal in compound will depend on ligand, like the high-low spin cases (which is not covered in periodic table wallpaper?), en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_field_theory, and academia.edu/847281/… "4.1. Free and Bound Atoms" $\endgroup$ – user26143 Dec 4 '13 at 0:35
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    $\begingroup$ I think OP merely wants to know an efficient way to associate each transition element to their group? i.e. knowing by heart that ruthenium is from group 8, alongside iron and osmium. $\endgroup$ – Nicolau Saker Neto Dec 4 '13 at 0:44

Wikipedia has a comprehensive list on chemistry mnemonics, with which I'm now memorizing the position of the transition metals.

For example, for the first two periods of the elements (excluding neon):

H He Li Be B C N O F

Ha. Healthy Little Beggar Boys Catching Newts Or Fish.

Or my favourite for the first period of transition metals:

Sc Ti V Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn

Saint Thomas Very Carefully Made Five Completely New Copies of Zarathustha.

  • $\begingroup$ Marked as accepted for the time being, if someone comes along and has a good option that works for them I'd be very glad to hear about it! $\endgroup$ – tschoppi Feb 16 '14 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ The asker could well create their own mnemonic more suited to their objectives by reciting the transition elements group by group instead of period by period (i.e. Sc → Y → La/Lu → Ac/Lr , Ti → Zr → Hf → Rf , V → Nb ... , with period 7 transition metals optional). Chain them all together for extra points! The very act of challenging yourself to create your own mnemonics will help you learn, so it's doubly effective. $\endgroup$ – Nicolau Saker Neto Feb 16 '14 at 13:39

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