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

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13.1.1 The variable org-publish-project-alist

Publishing is configured almost entirely through setting the value of one variable, called org-publish-project-alist. Each element of the list configures one project, and may be in one of the two following forms:

        ("project-name" :property value :property value ...)
          i.e., a well-formed property list with alternating keys and values
     or
        ("project-name" :components ("project-name" "project-name" ...))
     

In both cases, projects are configured by specifying property values. A project defines the set of files that will be published, as well as the publishing configuration to use when publishing those files. When a project takes the second form listed above, the individual members of the :components property are taken to be sub-projects, which group together files requiring different publishing options. When you publish such a “meta-project”, all the components will also be published, in the sequence given.