The term in extenso comes from Latin and literally means "at full length." It usually appears as a footnote and is used to indicate that the entire contents of a book, article, or other document have been printed elsewhere. It is used in both literary and legal circles, frequently at the end of a summary or excerpt, but it also may be used to direct readers to a complete version of a work any time that a shortened version of that work appears.
Often, literary journals, professional journals, magazines, newspapers, and other print media do not have the room to print an entire document. They might print an abridged version instead or print a "teaser" or excerpt, which is a short portion of the document. At the end of the shortened or abridged version, the publisher will then print a short statement saying that the article or document may be found in extenso and list the place where the entire document resides.
This might also occur within the body text of a research paper, non-fiction book, or legal brief as well. A brief portion of a ruling or article might be quoted within the paper and then printed in extenso in the paper's appendix or at another location, such as a website. The main purpose of such a strategy is to use the shortened article as a reference while conserving space within the paper or brief. For example, a legal brief designed to convince a judge to allow the admission of a particular piece of evidence might reference a ruling in which similar evidence was admitted in a similar case. The ruling might then be printed in extenso in the appendix so the judge can read the entire ruling if he desires.
In the digital age, in extenso might appear as an enabled link or in front of a link to indicate that clicking will take the reader to the full version of the document. This can happen on a web page, blog, electronic article, or other similar document. As with print media, this designation indicates that the version on the electronic page is not the full version.
The term comes from Latin, originating with the word extensus, which means "to stretch." Many believe that the actual term was first used in the late 1800s, but no positive attribution exists. It is similar to the phrase in totum, which is Latin for "in total."