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I need to insert a full-page colour plate into a document I am writing. The plate has been prepared in a different program. As colour plates, which I have seen in books, do not carry page numbers, my intention was to simply insert the colour plate into the appropriate place in the document and refer to it with text such as, "... are shown in the colour plate (overleaf)." Would this be considered an acceptable method?

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There is a difference between "not showing" and "not having" a page number. The books and magazines I know, continue the page numbering even though the page number is not shown.

So you can refer to it by page number. If the color plate is between page 15 and 17, the reader knows that the plate has number 16. Besides that you can always refer to a picture/plate/diagram by mentioning "overleaf" "next page" "below". But then make sure it really is "overleaf" "next page" or "below".

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I've only seen plates which are not numbered, in that page X appears before the plates, followed by page X+1 after the plates, but I take your points. –  SabreWolfy Feb 11 '13 at 19:12
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