The definition above requires some set-theoretic assumption to ensure that the functor category exists, but it can be rephrased to say that the colimit of weighted by exists, for any . (This still involves quantification over large objects, however, so some foundational care is needed.) This version has an evident generalization to enriched categories.
Although the definition refers explicitly only to colimits, every total category is also complete, i.e. has all small limits. It also has some large limits. In fact, it has “all possible” large limits that a locally small category can have: if is a functor such that is a small set for all , then has a limit.
Any cocomplete and epi-cocomplete category with a generator is total. (And more generally, any cocomplete and -complete category with an -generator is total, for a suitable class .) See (Day), theorem 1, for a proof. This includes:
Also, totality lifts along solid functors; that is, if the codomain of a solid functor is total, then so is its domain. See (Tholen) for a proof. This implies that the following types of categories are total:
any reflective subcategory of a total category