A survey of e ective nite element formulations for the analysis of shell structures is presented. First, the basic requirements for shell elements are discussed, in which it is emphasized that generality and reliability are most important items. A general displacement-based formulation is then brie y reviewed. This formulation is not e ective, but it is used as a starting point for developing a general and e ective approach using the mixed interpolation of the tensorial components. The formulation of various MITC elements (that is, elements based on Mixed Interpolation of Tensorial Components) are presented. Theoretical results (applicable to plate analysis) and various numerical results of analyses of plates and shells are summarized. These illustrate some current capabilities and the potential for further nite element developments.