Before books were routinely full color, there would be a section of full color pages bound into the middle of the book.

What's the name for this section?

  • Are you sure there is a name for it? In books with such sections, there would often be a list of those sections at the front, but it would just say "List of Illustrations". – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '15 at 21:27
  • I believe there is a name, and I thought it was colorplate, but I looked it up, and apparently I'm wrong. – ThePopMachine Dec 3 '15 at 21:31
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    They're referred to as "plates", but I think that refers to the individual color pages rather than the entire section of them. – Greg Lee Dec 3 '15 at 21:32
  • @GregLee, that's an acceptable answer if you can provide a reference. I don't actual care if the name applies to each page or the section as a whole. – ThePopMachine Dec 3 '15 at 21:34
  • I googled "color plates in books", and the very first reference from Abe Books says "Most people familiar with AbeBooks will have seen the words ‘color plate’ used in association with certain rare book listings. Plates are whole page illustrations printed separately from the text (illustrations printed within the text are called cuts) and naturally color plates feature color illustrations." – Greg Lee Dec 3 '15 at 21:39

(Tipped-in) (color) plate

Partial quote from Wikipedia:

In the book trade, a tipped-in page or, if it is an illustration, tipped-in plate or simply plate, is a page that is printed separately from the main text of the book, but attached to the book.[1]

A tipped-in page may be glued onto a regular page, or even bound along with the other pages. It is often printed on a different kind of paper, using a different printing process, and of a different format than a regular page.


Typical uses of tipped-in pages added by the publisher include:

  • color illustrations, generally printed using a different process (e.g. intaglio or lithography) and on different paper
  • an author's signature, signed on a blank or preprinted page, before the book is bound
  • original photographic prints
  • maps, often larger than the book format and folded to fit
  • coupons or reply cards
  • errata sheets, only produced after the printing run
  • a short addendum
  • a replacement for a missing, damaged, or incorrectly printed page

As implied above, more colloquially, they can be called simply color plates or just plates.

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  • I never understand these things. Doubtless the most technical answer, but how many non-printers use it or are going to be helped by 'tipped in'? Why isn't 'color section', in standard English, the most upvoted answer? It is the name for the section (as OP requests) rather than a half-page of the section. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 4 '15 at 17:31
  • @EdwinAshworth This already also includes color plate or just plate as possible less technical answers. I've just edited to make this more explicit. – ThePopMachine Dec 4 '15 at 17:51
  • Perhaps you should donate the upvotes to those who came up with it first. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 4 '15 at 18:04
  • @EdwinAshworth, perhaps you should read the history carefully and see that I came up with it first. My initial guess was 'colorplate', it didn't seem right because the first Google search didn't bear it out. In addition some of the comments have been deleted. Greg's confirmation of my thought allowed me to locate the Wikipedia page which provides the reference. – ThePopMachine Dec 4 '15 at 18:15
  • 'Colorplate'? 'I looked it up, and apparently I'm wrong.' Greg Lee seems to have suggested the simplex and open compound nouns. Voting is almost bound to be an imperfect method to show approval, but I'm convinced that the disproportionate numbers some basic answers get is not good for the credibility of the site. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 4 '15 at 20:51

Old (and even some new) wildlife guides used to use this format, with species descriptions printed on Bible paper and photos or other colour representations on colour plates. This seems to be true in other techincal texts where full-colour printing of the entire book would be too expensive.

Rather boringly when the plates are referred to collectively, the term "plate section" is used. More often the photos would be referred to as a "photo(graph) section", or (especially when reproduced from paintings) just "colour section".

Examples (from online sources):

  • "The ... reference point in any field guide is the plate section"

    A Field Guide to Birds of the Gambia and Senegal, Barlow, Wacher & Disley. (via Google books)

  • "For a colour version of this figure please see colour plate section"

    Radiotherapy in Practice - Brachytherapy, Hoskin & Coyle (via Google books)

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  • I think I've got some examples on the shelf. I'll hopefully edit in some usage examples /references. – Chris H Dec 3 '15 at 21:46
  • These Google Ngrams show that 'color section' is a far more popular / less jargonistic term. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 3 '15 at 23:25
  • @EdwinAshworth, thank you. "Plate section" was above "colo[u]r section" until about 1960, but of course "colour section" can refer to other things (e.g. newspapers). – Chris H Dec 4 '15 at 11:16

Those are the glossy pages.

Back when people used Sears catalogs as toilet paper, you'd hope to get a new one before you had to start using the glossy pages.

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  • Dunno, my Grandpa might have gone straight for the glossy pages. His preferred loo roll was weird, my best description is to compare it to greaseproof paper! – AndyT Dec 4 '15 at 10:19

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