# How are s orbitals different from p orbitals?

The s orbital is spherical, while the p orbital is shaped like a dumbbell. Due to these shapes, the s orbital has only one orientation, while the p orbital has three degenerate orientations ($x$, $y$, and $z$), each of which can hold up to two electrons.
This is why you write $1 {s}^{2} 2 {s}^{2} 2 {p}^{6} \cdot \cdot \cdot$ for electron configurations.
The s orbital has nodes that lay within its spherical boundaries at select radial distances $\vec{r}$, but the p orbital has nodal planes.
Whereas the s orbital only increases in size and varies due to the quantum number $n$ (size) and $l$ (number of radial nodes = $n - l - 1$), the p orbital increases in complexity for higher angular momentum $l$ and higher quantum number $n$.