Difference Wiki

Inline vs. Online: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 12, 2023
"Inline" refers to something being aligned or integrated within a sequence or set, while "Online" pertains to being connected to or accessible via the internet or a computer network.

Key Differences

"Inline" and "Online" are two distinct terms, each with its own specific realm of application. "Inline," at its core, speaks to the alignment or positioning of something within a particular sequence or series. In the context of computing or web design, "Inline" often refers to inline elements or styles that affect a specific portion of content without disrupting the overall layout. For example, "Inline styles in HTML dictate specific attributes for particular text segments."
Conversely, "Online" predominantly relates to the realm of the internet and digital connectivity. Something that is "Online" is connected to the internet or another computer network. This term can refer to individuals who are currently using the internet, services accessible via the web, or the status of devices connected to a network. As an example, "Shopping online has become increasingly popular over the past decade."
It's important to note that "Inline" emphasizes positioning within a certain sequence or context. This positioning can be within a document, a machine, or any series of elements. In contrast, "Online" underscores digital accessibility and connection. Being "Online" doesn't imply any specific sequence but does convey a state of digital connectivity.
In daily usage, "Inline" might also refer to objects being in a direct line, such as "The cars were inline at the toll booth." On the other hand, "Online" has become synonymous with the modern digital age, signifying a vast array of services, interactions, and activities occurring over the internet, as in "Online education offers flexibility to learners worldwide."
Lastly, it's essential to approach these terms within their given contexts. While "Inline" conveys positioning and alignment, "Online" communicates connectivity and digital presence.

Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

Aligned or integrated within a sequence or set.
Connected to or accessible via the internet or a network.

Usage Context

Design, positioning, machinery.
Internet, digital activities, connectivity.

Part of Speech

Adjective, adverb.
Adjective, adverb.

Example Sentence

Inline elements in a document do not disrupt the layout.
Many services are now available online.

Associated Terminology

Inline skating, inline engine.
Online shopping, online gaming.

Inline and Online Definitions


Arranged in a straight or direct sequence.
The machine parts were placed inline for assembly.


Connected to or available through the internet or a computer network.
She completed her degree online.


Positioned in a direct line.
The cars were inline at the drive-thru.


Indicating the state of a device being connected and operational.
My printer is online and ready to use.


Incorporated into the sequence of a larger set or series.
The book had inline citations.


Referring to actions or activities done via the internet.
Online shopping offers a variety of choices.


Pertaining to web elements or styles that affect only specific content segments.
Inline CSS targets specific elements in a webpage.


Denoting a direct connection to a main power or main circuit.
The backup generator is now online after the power outage.


Relating to activities performed on a direct line, like skating.
He enjoyed inline skating at the park.


Connected to a central computer or to a computer network
The workers' terminals are online during business hours.


Incorporated into a body of text rather than placed as a separate section
Inline citations.


Accessible via a computer or computer network
An online database.


Alternative spelling of in-line


Conducted or facilitated by means of a computer network
Online dating.


To optimize using in-line expansion.


In production or operation, often as part of a supply chain
Is the new factory online yet?.


An element that occurs within the flow of the text.
Inline elements are things like an italic tag, or a bold tag.


Of a system: connected (generally electrically) to a larger network.


Of a generator or power plant: connected to the grid.


Of a computer: actively connected to the Internet or to some other communications service.
Is this modem online?


Available over, or delivered from, the Internet.
I prefer to read online newspapers.


Connected to the Internet.
I'll be online tonight, so I'll be able to reply to your email.


Available on a computer system, even if not networked.
Press the F1 key to access the online help.
The program comes with an online manual, supplied on compact disc.


Of a system: active, particularly building facilities (such as power) or a factory or power plant.
The power is online.
Once this factory comes online, it will double car production in our country!


(slang) Immersed in Internet culture. (Usually modified by an intensifier such as extremely or terminally)


While online; while in a running or active state, or connected to the Internet.
He works online.


To bring (a system, etc.) online; to promote to an active or running state.


Connected by a communications line to a computer. Opposite of off-line.


Being in progress now; ongoing; as, on-line editorial projects.


Present and active in a digital space or platform.
He's online on the chat application.


Is it possible to be "Online" without an internet connection?

Generally, "Online" implies internet connectivity, but it can also denote a device's operational status.

Does "Inline" always mean within a straight line?

Not always. It denotes positioning within a sequence or context, which might not be a straight line.

What does "Inline" mean in the context of web design?

"Inline" refers to styles or elements that affect specific segments of content without disrupting the overall layout.

Is an "Online" class the same as a virtual class?

Yes, both refer to courses conducted over the internet.

Can a game be played "Online" without the internet?

No. An "Online" game implies it's played over the internet.

Does being "Online" mean actively using the internet?

Not necessarily. A device can be "Online" (connected) but not actively used.

Can "Inline" refer to machinery parts?

Yes, like an "inline engine" where cylinders are aligned in a single row.

Is "Online" always about the internet?

Mostly, but it can also refer to a device being connected and operational or directly connected to a main power.

Can "Inline" relate to things outside of the digital space?

Yes, like "inline skating" or objects aligned in a sequence.

Can I say "Online" for a phone connected to a cellular network?

Yes, as the phone is connected to a type of network and can access digital services.

What's the opposite of "Inline" in web design?

It's "Block-level," which affects the layout more broadly.

What's the opposite of being "Online"?

The opposite is being "Offline" or not connected.

Is "Inline" used in manufacturing?

Yes, as in "inline production" where processes occur in a series or sequence.

Do "Inline" styles override external styles in web design?

Typically, yes. "Inline" styles have a higher specificity in CSS.

Do "Inline" images disrupt a webpage's flow?

No, "Inline" images flow with the surrounding text without breaking the layout.

How do I know if my computer is "Online"?

You can check the network icon or try accessing a website.

What does it mean when someone is "Online" on a messaging app?

It indicates they're currently connected to the app and likely available to chat.

Can something be "Online" if the internet is down?

No, without internet connectivity, a service or device would typically be considered "Offline."

Are "Inline" skates the same as rollerblades?

Yes, "Inline" skates have wheels arranged in a straight line, commonly known as rollerblades.

Can "Inline" refer to inline citations in academic writing?

Yes, "Inline" citations are integrated directly into the text.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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