Abstract The behaviour of the linear, quadratic and cubic elements of the Mindlin plate strip family for thick and very thin plate analysis is investigated in this paper. Selective integration techniques are used to ensure the good behaviour of the elements when dealing with thin plates. Numerical results showing the convergence and accuracy of the elements for the analysis of plates of a wide range of thicknesses are given. The general performance of the three elements is discussed in detail. In particular, the linear element with a single integration point seems to be the best value strip element for practical purposes.