A macro is a named function that a user can use to do something in their page. The use of macros is essentially "do clever stuff with the data on my pages"
Plugins are blocks of code that add functionality to the overall system. You add them in to do things like added reporting outside pages, add security layers, themes, enable scripting and so-on.
The confusion that you might run into is that a lot of macros are added by writing a plugin that provides it. (But not all of them, you can also do "user macros" which don't need a plugin)
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