Understanding Email: CC vs. BCC

In the world of electronic communication, email reigns supreme. It’s a versatile tool used for everything from casual conversations to formal business correspondence. However, despite its ubiquity, many people still find themselves scratching their heads over certain aspects of email etiquette and functionality. One such area of confusion revolves around the enigmatic CC and BCC fields.

What do CC and BCC stand for?

Before delving into the intricacies of when to use each field, let’s first clarify what CC and BCC stand for:

  • CC: Carbon Copy. This field allows you to send a copy of your email to additional recipients. The identities of everyone in the To and CC fields are visible to all recipients.
  • BCC: Blind Carbon Copy. This field also allows you to send a copy of your email to additional recipients. However, unlike the CC field, the identities of the recipients in the BCC field are hidden from all other recipients, including those in the To and CC fields.

When to Use CC

The CC field is best used when you want to keep someone in the loop without necessarily expecting them to take any action. It’s a way of saying, Hey, just wanted to keep you informed about this. Here are some common scenarios where using CC is appropriate:

  • Keeping colleagues informed: When sending an email regarding a project update, you might CC your team members to keep them in the loop, even if the email isn’t directly addressed to them.
  • Providing visibility to managers: When emailing a client or customer, you might CC your manager to provide them with visibility into the communication.
  • Sharing information with a group: If you’re sending out a newsletter or an announcement to a large group of people, you can use the CC field to include everyone.

When to Use BCC

The BCC field is best used when you need to maintain the privacy of the recipients or prevent a lengthy email chain. Here are some specific use cases for BCC:

  • Protecting recipient privacy: When sending an email to a large group of people, especially if they don’t know each other personally, using BCC protects their email addresses from being exposed to the entire group.
  • Avoiding Reply All chaos: Using BCC can help prevent the dreaded Reply All chain reaction when sending an email to a large group. Since BCC recipients are hidden, any replies will only be sent to the sender, not the entire group.
  • Sending a discreet copy: You might BCC someone on an email if you want them to be aware of the communication without directly involving them in the conversation.

Common CC and BCC Etiquette Tips

Here are a few additional etiquette tips to keep in mind when using CC and BCC:

  • Use CC sparingly: Don’t overuse the CC field. Too many CC’d recipients can clutter inboxes and make it difficult to follow the intended recipients.
  • Be mindful of BCC use: While BCC can be useful, it’s important to use it judiciously. Overusing BCC can create a lack of transparency and make recipients feel like they’re not being fully informed.
  • Inform recipients about BCC: If you’re BCC’ing someone on an email, it’s generally considered good practice to inform the primary recipients that you’ve done so. You can simply add a line at the end of your email stating, BCC’d to [Recipient Name] or something similar.
  • Respect privacy: Remember that BCC recipients should treat the email as confidential. They should avoid forwarding the email or disclosing their BCC status unless explicitly permitted by the sender.

CC and BCC in Different Email Clients

The process for adding recipients to the CC and BCC fields is generally consistent across different email clients, but the exact steps might vary slightly. Here’s a quick overview of how to do it in some popular email clients:

  • Gmail: When composing a new email, click on the Cc and Bcc links located at the right end of the To field to reveal the respective fields.
  • Outlook: In the new email window, you’ll find the Cc and Bcc buttons in the top ribbon. Clicking on them will add the respective fields to your email.
  • Apple Mail: Similar to Gmail, Apple Mail also hides the CC and BCC fields by default. To reveal them, click on the Cc/Bcc button located next to the To field.


Mastering the art of CC and BCC is crucial for effective email communication. By understanding the differences between these fields and following proper etiquette, you can ensure that your emails are sent to the right people, with the right level of privacy and transparency. So, next time you hit the send button, take a moment to consider your CC and BCC strategy – your recipients will thank you for it.

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