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You start from the left side of the periodic table and count across a period until you reach the element you're trying to find. The count is the number of valence electrons. If you're trying to find the number of valence electrons for a cation then you find the number of valence electrons and subtract the numerical value of the charge. If you're trying to find the number of valence electrons on an anion you add the numerical number of the charge to the valence electrons of the ground state element.
The number of valence electrons depends on where the element is in on the periodic table. For neutral atoms, it is the element's main group number (1-8). Group 1 elements have 1 valence e-, Group 2 had 2 valence e-, and so on. But, if the atom has a charge, then you would take the element's main group number and add or subtract valence electrons depending on if the ion is positively or negatively charged.
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