What’s the Difference Between CC and BCC When Sending an Email?

CC and BCC fields when sending e-mails work similarly. CC stands for "carbon copy", while BCC stands for "invisible carbon copy". Although these terms were immediately obvious when email was invented, they are obsolete nowadays.

CC and BCC are two ways to send copies of an e-mail to other people. However, you can also send copies of an e-mail to other people by specifying multiple addresses in the To field.

Carbon copy explained

The abbreviation CC comes from "carbon copy". By placing a sheet of carbon paper between two sheets of paper, the pressure of writing on the first piece of paper will push the carbon paper ink down onto the second piece of paper. paper, producing an additional copy of the document. Like a physical carbon copy, a CC is a way to send extra copies of an e-mail to other people. Some people refer to CC as a "courtesy copy," which better describes what is actually a CC. CC is often used as a verb, as in "I have CC" on the e-mail. "

Photo credit: Holger Ellgaard on Wikimedia Commons

CC against BCC

When you paste recipients on an e-mail, the CC list is visible to all other recipients. For example, if you send an email to bob@example.com and jake@example.com in an email, Bob and Jake will both know that the other has also received the email.

CCB stands for "invisible carbon copy". Unlike CC, no one other than the sender can see the list of BCC recipients. For example, if you have bob@example.com and jake@example.com in the BCC list, neither Bob nor Jake will know that the other has received the e-mail.

Someone on the BCC list can see everything else including the CC list and the content of the e-mail. However, the BCC list is secret – no one can see this list except the sender. If a person is on the BCC list, they will only see their own e-mail in the BCC list.

vs. CC

The To and CC fields work similarly. Whether you put four e-mail addresses in the To field or you put an e-mail address in the To field and three in the CC field, all four people will receive the same e-mail. They will also be able to see the e-mail address of all other recipients in the To and CC fields.

When it comes to email etiquette, the To field is usually for the main recipients of your email. The CC field allows you to send a copy to other interested parties for their information. This is not a concrete rule, and the use of To and CC varies.

For example, say your boss asks you to send an email to a customer in response to a complaint. You must indicate the customer's email address in the To field and the e-mail address of your manager in the CC field, so your supervisor receives a copy of the e-mail. If you do not want the customer to see the e-mail address of your boss, you should instead indicate the address of your boss in the BCC field.

When to use CC and BCC

CC is useful when:

You want someone else to receive a copy of an email, but they are not one of the main recipients.
You want the recipients of the message to know who else the message was sent to.

BCC is useful when:

You want someone else to receive an e-mail, but you do not want the main recipients of the e-mail to see that you have sent a copy to that other person. For example, if you have a problem with a colleague, you can send them an e-mail about it and BCC's Human Resources department. HR would receive a copy for their records, but your colleague would not be aware of that.
You want to send a copy of an email to a lot of people. For example, if you have a mailing list with a large number of people, you can include them in the BCC field. Nobody will be able to see the e-mail address of anyone else. If you used them instead, you would expose their email addresses and a long list of CC emails that would display in their email program. You can even put your own email address in the To field and include all other addresses in the BCC field, hiding the e-mail address of each.

CCB, replies and messaging threads

Note that BCC does not work as CC when it comes to mail threads. For example, if you send an e-mail to bob@example.com and BCC jake@example.com, Jake will receive the original e-mail that you sent. However, if Bob responds, Jake will not receive a copy of Bob's answer. Bob's email program can not see that Jake has ever received email, so he does not send him a copy of the answer.

Of course, you can continue to BCC Jake on future emails or send him a copy of the answer. It is also possible that Bob can clear Jake's email from the CC field and answer you directly if you have CC Jake instead. However, users are much more likely to receive all the answers in a thread if you have them CC. You will have to keep them in the loop if you make them a BCC.

In practice, this can be summed up largely in the email etiquette and different people will use these fields differently, especially the To and CC fields. Do not be surprised if you see them used differently.

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