Paragraph, verse, article, clause, plank, count are comparable when they denote one of the several and individually distinct statements of a discourse or instrument, each of which deals with a particular point or item.
Paragraph primarily refers to a typographical division, usually indicated by beginning on a new line, and usually by indenting the first word, or by the use of ¶, but it also is applicable to a similar division in writing or typing. In rhetorical use the term usually implies a number of sentences which comprise a unit that coherently develops a topic or point, especially one of the subordinate topics or points of an essay or an argument.
In more general use, brief, clear, or pointed statement of a single idea rather than its expansion and adequate exposition is stressed; the term is often used where statements follow in serial or numbered order and are neither developed individually nor logically related to each other.
Verse (see also VERSE 1 ) is applied specifically to one of the numbered paragraphs of the Bible, especially as printed in the Authorized and Douay versions.
Article need not imply paragraph arrangement of each point or item, but it does imply that each is a distinct yet essential member of a whole.
In its more common use it is applied to a statement that stands out distinctly, as, for example, one of the stipulations in a contract, or one of the doctrines in a creed, or one of the provisos of a statute; thus, the Thirty-nine Articles are the doctrines to which a clergyman of the Anglican Communion subscribes before being admitted to holy orders; the articles of the Apostles' Creed are not paragraphs or sentences, but brief phrases naming each of the dogmas professed by those Christians who hold this creed; the articles of an indenture, an agreement by which an apprentice is bound to a master, are the specific terms or conditions of that agreement. However, in some instruments, such as the Constitution of the United States of America, article designates one of the larger and more inclusive divisions, comprising many articles in the narrower sense.
Therefore one usually speaks of a specific rule, regulation, specification, stipulation of that document, or of other constitutions, as a clause.
Clause is also used more often than article in reference to a will, a deed, and a legislative bill, and with little difference in frequency in reference to such instruments as contracts and statutes.
Plank is applied to an article in a program as being something that those who accept that program implicitly agree to carry out if possible. It is chiefly used in designating one of the specific proposals or pledges in the platform of a political party.
Count is the legal designation for a particular allegation or charge in a declaration or indictment.