CC and BCC in Emails: How to Use Both Like a Pro

CC and BCC in Emails: How to Use Both Like a Pro

There you are, feeling snazzy about the email you’ve just written. It’s articulate, charming, and professional. Now, you just have to send it. But should you use CC or BCC? After all, you don’t want your emails going to the spam folder.

And which recipients go in which section? You don’t want your message overlooked because an email blunder takes center stage. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll walk you through: 
  • What CC and BCC are
  • How to effectively use CC and BCC at work
  • How to avoid common missteps with each
  • What’s better than BCC if you need to send mass emails
Let’s dive in.

What is CC in email?

CC is an abbreviation for carbon copy, which hearkens back to the days of using carbon paper to make copies of handwritten letters. Luckily, you can now send someone a copy of your message without your hand cramping. The digital version of a carbon copy, CC enables you to send a copy of your email to parties in addition to your primary recipient. 

Here’s how it works: CC recipients get an exact copy of your email and reply-all responses that follow. They’ll also see other parties copied on the email.

When to use CC (and when not to) 

CC is most often used to keep people informed or facilitate group conversations over email. Here are a few tips for using CC in email to streamline your digital communications: 

1. Use CC to keep all parties informed

You could send a bunch of separate emails to everyone about a project or piece of information or save time and send a single email to the whole group by using CC. 

All parties included in the TO and CC fields can view the email, reply to the group by using reply all, or respond to you, the sender, individually.

2. Add a new participant to an email thread in progress by using CC

Sometimes you need to add another voice as a conversation evolves. To include a team member on an email thread in progress, just add their name into the CC field when you send a reply. This enables the person added to review the thread and respond to everyone in the TO or CC fields. 

However, a word of caution before using CC to add someone to an email thread: Confirm that all information and attachments in the thread are acceptable to share to avoid compromising any private or proprietary information.

3. Don’t CC everyone in your office on your emails

Being informed or consulted is great but drowning in emails isn’t. So don’t get into the habit of CCing the whole staff on messages that don’t require their attention. 

Use your judgment: if someone is crucial to the conversation or needs the information you’re sharing, include them in CC. Spare anyone else who doesn’t meet the criteria to be respectful of their time and attention. 

What is BCC in email?

BCC means blind carbon copy—it’s similar to CC except that the copied parties aren’t visible to others in the TO field or people blind carbon copied. Only the sender can see the full list of people included in the email.

Note that BCC recipients can view the original email sent, but not the replies unless they’ve reentered it into the BCC field or moved to CC. Only those listed in CC can see and respond to threads.

When to use BCC (and when not to)

Let’s look at two of the most common uses of BCC in email, followed by the most common misuse.

1. Use BCC to send to a group of people while maintaining confidentiality

If you need to share information with a group while keeping their identities or email addresses private, use BCC. This protects the identity and confidentiality of anyone listed in BCC. 

Using BCC for mass emails saves time and energy while allowing you to share your message with a large group. Just make sure to double-check that you’re using BCC and not CC before you hit that send button.

2. Make email introductions using BCC

BCC is helpful for making email introductions when one or both parties isn’t expecting it, such as when a colleague requests a referral to a vendor or contractor you know. 

By listing both parties’ email addresses in the BCC field, you can successfully introduce them without compromising their contact information. Then, each recipient can choose whether to continue the conversation and reveal their contact information. 

3. Don’t use BCC for digital eavesdropping

You’ve likely heard a few horror stories of someone adding a boss or human resource manager in BCC without the primary recipient’s knowledge. Unless you encounter harassment, abuse, or other criminal behavior, avoid using BCC this way. 

At the very least, you’ll compromise trust—and depending on your country’s or company’s policies, you may expose yourself to compliance or legal issues. For example, using the BCC field can be interpreted as sharing information without consent, which can be a violation of email privacy laws like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation or Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

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Twilio SendGrid enables you to customize and design emails, organize your contacts, grow your email lists, avoid spam filters, and track email metrics. SendGrid also helps you set up and safeguard your mass emails when using CC and BCC for email marketing, keeping recipients’ identity and information confidential unless they choose to reveal it. 

Sign up for SendGrid’s free account and start sending professional, confidential emails today.

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