Atomic Orbital Mnemonic Devices–with Illustrations, and Raditude

Atomic Orbital Mnemonics

How does one remember SPDFGHIK…? Remembering the S through K orbitals is the trick. After K, it goes alphabetical. (But skipping S and P, because they’ve already been done.) My search for atomic orbital mnemonic devices only turned up one that had sufficient character to stick those eight seemingly arbitrary letters in my mind.

The Standard Mnemonic

The one I found was pretty good, though:

Sober Physicists Don’t Find Giraffes Hiding IKitchens.

Sober Physicists Don't Find Giraffes Hiding In their Kitchens - Atomic Orbital Mnemonics


Then I Was Unleashed Upon the World of Mnemonics…

But I still felt the world of atomic orbital mnemonics could use a little more character, so here are a few of my own. If you’re having trouble getting atomic orbitals to stick in your mind, have no fear: just try to get these horrible mnemonics to unstick!

Atomic Orbital Mnemonic

Super Pig Don’t Fly Good; (dat) Hog IKapow.


Atomic Orbital Mnemonics - Werner Heisenberg's Sick Kicks

Scientists, Please! Don’t Forgo Gazing at Heisenberg’s Ill Kicks!

Lookin’ pretty confident…for a guy who was famous for being uncertain.

And no, that’s not supposed to be Bill Clinton. In my defense, this was the chin, slicked hair, and self-satisfied mug I was shooting for.

Werner Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg

And I believe these two atomic orbital mnemonics are their own illustration. Let your own sick imagination flesh them out.

Some Pyro Doled Flame, Gasoline; Had Immediate Kablooey.

Space Pirates Don’t Foxtrot; Galactic Hopscotch Is da Kicks.

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About Bret Norwood

Bret Norwood is a staff blogger for Learning Laboratory in addition to other roles, including UI design and content development for Study Putty, our free memorization tool for chemistry and many other course topics. He is also a published writer of literary fiction--see

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