SharePoint Publishing sites are probably my favorite of the OOB Site Templates. With all the standard features you get from SharePoint you get a whole lot more structure to your site.
The biggest part of the Publishing Site is the “SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure” which enables you to check files out while you edit them. Once you have checked a file in, your changes will only remain visible to those who have access (depending on how your security groups have been set up). Publishing the page will then set the page for everyone to see the latest version.
If your site has approval workflow activated then the published document/page will need to have approval from selected users before it is fully published to all users.
Master Page and Page Layout
SharePoint Publishing Feature allows the site to create, edit and delete your own master pages and page layouts for your site, this can be useful if a your site wants different branding from the parent site or if you want to create page layouts that include site exclusive web parts.
Content Query Web Part
The Content Query Web Part in my eyes is one of the most useful tools in the SharePoint Web Part arsenal. This allows you to query against sites or lists for information. You then specify the items you’re looking for by their content type and start filtering/sorting/grouping your data by further queries against the results. Within your site Style Library you can download the “.XSL” files for the content query and modify them to customise your output on the page.