In this investigation, a method for the finite rotation and large deformation analysis of plates is presented. The method, which is based on the absolute nodal coordinate formulation, leads to a plate element capable of representing exact rigid body motion. In this method, continuity conditions on all the displacement gradients are imposed. Therefore, non-smoothness of the plate mid-surface at the nodal points is avoided. By developing such a plate element, a constant mass matrix is obtained, and as a consequence, the centrifugal and Coriolis forces are equal to zero. Generalization of the formulation to the case of shell elements is discussed. Numerical results are presented in order to demonstrate the use of the proposed method in the large rotation and deformation analysis of plates and shells.