What are the similarities and differences between an outline and a paragraph?

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An outline and a paragraph are similar in that both are components of writing. Both refer to ways in which written work is organized, and both should have a logical structure, one that readers can recognize.

However, they are different in important ways. An outline is like the skeleton or blueprint of an essay. It should be part of the planning and development process for an essay (or other written work). In an outline you provide the most important points you plan to cover, organized by sequence and priority.

A paragraph is a single unit of prose. It is made up of sentences, and often is a component of a larger piece of prose like an essay. If an outline was a blueprint for an essay, a paragraph is like a brick in a wall, or a floor in a building that is constructed.

Paragraphs should be polished and grammatical. Outlines should be clear, but are often rough, a kind of scaffolding or trellis for later finished prose.

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