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In chemistry, a group (sometimes called a family) is a column of elements in the periodic table of the chemical elements. There are 18 numbered groups in the periodic table; the f-block columns (between groups 2 and 3) are not numbered. The elements in a group have similar physical or chemical characteristics of the outermost electron shells of their atoms (i.e., the same core charge), because most chemical properties are dominated by the orbital location of the outermost electron.
The modern periodic table uses the numbering system of "group 1" to "group 18". The system of eighteen groups is generally accepted by the chemistry community, but some dissent exists about membership of several elements, such as hydrogen, helium and some transition metal elements.
Groups may also be identified using their topmost element, or have a specific name. For example, group 16 is also described as the "oxygen group" and as the "chalcogens". An exception is the "iron group", which usually refers to "group 8", but in chemistry may also mean iron, cobalt, and nickel, or some other set of elements with similar chemical properties, like platinum group metals.