Email CC vs. BCC: Their Definitions, Differences and Usage

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Email is one of the most regularly used corporate communication mediums and learning proper email etiquette may help you develop a better reputation and enhance workplace efficiency. A well-written email involves the proper use of different recipient fields. Depending on the type of email you're writing and the replies you anticipate or want, you may copy in colleagues, contacts and people in the appropriate location. In this article, we define and explore email CC vs BCC functions, explain how to use these fields to help you write more effective emails and provide tips on what to avoid when using them.

Related: Email Etiquette: The Professional Business Email Format

Email CC vs. BCC definition

Here's an overview of the email CC vs. BCC functions:

What does CC stand for?

CC is an email abbreviation for carbon copy, which refers to how CC sends copies of your email to each recipient. It's one of the three ways you can add recipients to an email. The CC box allows you to share the same information with additional colleagues while indicating that they aren't required to respond or take action. CC email addresses can receive responses to your original email if the responder uses the "Reply All" function. Any email addresses you include in the CC area are visible to all other email recipients.

What does BCC stand for?

BCC is an abbreviation for blind carbon copy. It performs the same function as CC but with two significant differences. Emails marked as BCC are invisible to other recipients and don't get subsequent thread responses. When you want to safeguard the privacy of recipients who receive the same email, BCC is helpful.

It's also a thoughtful solution for emails with extensive lists of recipients since it eliminates the clutter that a CC list may generate. Marketers depend on BCC to deliver elegant emails to mailing lists while preserving consumers' privacy. It's important to note that if a BCC recipient replies, their email becomes visible to all recipients.

What are the distinctions between email CC and BCC?

Because CC and BCC accomplish the same job, the distinction between the two is in their intended uses. Some of the differences between the two are as follows:

  • Visual appeal: Using BCC may make a more visually attractive email. Viewers of your email can't see the extensive list of email addresses extending across the top of your letter.

  • Typical recipient: Because open communication may promote efficiency and employee awareness, organisations typically utilise CC, which means the usual CC receiver is a professional colleague. While businesses utilise BCC on occasion internally, they use it more frequently when dealing with several other firms, clients or prospective consumers.

  • Discussion potential: You typically BCC individuals whom you don't expect to react to your communication, but CC recipients often reply when they have something relevant to say.

  • Confidentiality: If confidentiality is critical in a delicate scenario, BCC can help you protect the anonymity of any recipients.

Related: How to Start an Email Professionally (With Tips and Examples)

When can you use email CC and BCC?

It's critical to understand when to utilise which email recipient field. Here are some examples of when to use CC and when to use BCC in email correspondence:

When can you use CC?

When you want the email list to be visible to all recipients and you want everyone to continue to be part of an email thread, use CC on a message. Here are some example scenarios of using CC:

  • Keeping managers and colleagues informed: Use CC to keep supervisors and colleagues informed on projects and other aspects of a business. This can help you update everyone on a team efficiently.

  • Expressing urgency: Include supervisors or senior management in an email to motivate recipients to respond. You can consider using this method if you've previously made a few enquiries that have gone unanswered.

  • Introducing contacts: You can use CC in email introductions to pass someone's contact information to a recipient.

Ensure anyone you include in a CC list has permission to view the information you're sending, especially if you work in a role that provides professional services, such as law, finance and accounting.

When can you use BCC?

Use BCC on an email to add additional receivers when there's no need for the direct recipients to know who else received the email and the individuals in the BCC field don't require the responses, such as in these situations:

  • Sending a mailing list: Use BCC to send professional emails to people who don't know one other, such as during a marketing campaign. It respects each person's privacy and is proper email etiquette.

  • Sending out a newsletter: BCC is useful for newsletters or similar material since it protects the privacy of a subscriber list and their email addresses.

  • Sending a farewell message: When sending a farewell message to a large group of people, utilise BCC to ensure that only you get the responses to the original email.

  • Alerting about an issue: You can also utilise BCC to demonstrate unprofessional conduct to a supervisor or the human resources team.

If the scenario is important and you use BCC, discuss the issue with the copied person beforehand to ensure that a reply does not reveal that you copied someone else in.

Related: Email Etiquette: How to End an Email (With Examples)

Examples of how to use CC and BCC

Here are some examples of using CC and BCC:

Example of using CC

Here's an example of a situation where it's appropriate to use the CC function:

When your director requests copies of the most recent loading dock designs, you can email the architectural company in the To field and CC your director. It lets your director know you have requested the architectural plans and keeps them up to date on the architect's follow-up correspondence. On receiving the designs, the executive management team decides to relocate the loading dock entrance to the other side of the building to improve traffic flow.

You send an email to the architectural firm and copy the construction business to let them know about the planned modification. You also copy your company's project manager to keep them updated. All persons copied in the original email get any responses to this email.

Example of using BCC

Here's an example of a situation where it's appropriate to use the BCC function:

Your team discovers a cost-saving opportunity for some building material, so you email the construction firm in the To field, copy the sales team via CC, and add your executive team via BCC to keep them informed while limiting the number of replies they receive as other parties negotiate the pricing details. When you verify the new shop's completion date, your marketing team can send an invitation to a grand opening event to your clients and other stakeholders. They employ BCC for all recipients to assist secure the participants' addresses and their privacy.

Related: How to Write Goodbye Email to Coworkers (With Examples)

Tips for what to avoid when using CC and BCC

Here are some tips on what to avoid when using CC and BCC:

  • If you need a direct response, don't CC. Since most professionals think you're copying them as a courtesy, they may not prioritise a CC email.

  • Don't use CC to air grievances. When dealing with a problem at work that affects other team members, it's critical to approach the problem constructively. If you email your supervisor and CC your colleagues about an issue, it may cause tension in the workplace.

  • If the content isn't relevant, don't use CC. Keeping your team members up to date on advancements is a good habit, but avoid utilising CC too often. This can help ensure you don't overwhelm recipients with irrelevant emails.

  • Don't use BCC without permission. Ensure you have permission when you include someone on a BCC list, as they may not agree to be anonymous in an email thread.

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