This is the official manual for the latest Org-mode release.

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2.12 Org syntax

A reference document providing a formal description of Org's syntax is available as a draft on Worg, written and maintained by Nicolas Goaziou. It defines Org's core internal concepts such as headlines, sections, affiliated keywords, (greater) elements and objects. Each part of an Org file falls into one of the categories above.

To explore the abstract structure of an Org buffer, run this in a buffer:

     M-: (org-element-parse-buffer) RET

It will output a list containing the buffer's content represented as an abstract structure. The export engine relies on the information stored in this list. Most interactive commands (e.g., for structure editing) also rely on the syntactic meaning of the surrounding context.