Whenever you compose an email, there are often two additional fields called “CC” and “BCC”. While their meaning and uses might be obvious to you, it might not be for others.
In email terminology, CC actually means “Carbon copy” and BCC stands for “Blind Carbon copy“. You can use CC and BCC field to send copies of an email to additional people. Now the question you might be asking yourself is “Wait; I can also use the “TO” field to insert extra emails as well. So what’s really the difference between CC, BCC and TO field?”
Sending an Email
When you compose an email, in most email clients, including Gmail and Microsoft Outlook, you have three field choices to enter the recipient(s) email address(es): the TO, CC and BCC field. While filling any of them will get your email sent to the intended recipient(s), these three fields should never be used interchangeably especially in a work environment. Here’s how to use each one of them:
- To: Enter the email addresse(s) of people the email is directly targeted to. Generally speaking, you would want to add only one address.
- Cc: Enter the email addresse(s) of people whom you wishes they are aware of this email. The recipients in the “to” and “cc” field will be able to see each other when receiving the email
- Bcc: Enter the email addresse(s) of people you want to discreetly inform them about the same. Email addresses added to this field will neither be visible to the “TO” and “CC” nor to the other “BCC” recipients.
Example of CC and BCC
Here is what everyone will see (including John and David) when they receive the email:
Alice and Bob will see each other’s email address but will not see John and David’s email address. However, John and David will realize that they were BCC’ed, but neither of them will know who else was BCC’ed.
TO vs CC: When you should use CC instead of To
In the case of Alice and Bob, you could argue that why not add both Alice and Bob in the TO field or both in the CC field since they work similarly. Your email will still be sent. However, when it comes to emailing etiquette, the To field is generally used to address the main recipient of your email, and you generally expect a reply from them.
The person(s) in the CC field is used to send them a copy of the email just to keep them in ‘the loop’. Generally, they are not expected to participate in the email conversation, unless they have something important to point out.
Another scenario for using the CC field is when you want the recipient of the email to take the message more seriously or treat it as urgent. For example, let’s say your boss assigned you some work to complete, and you have reached a point where you need a sub-task to be done by a co-worker in order to continue. You might want to drop him an email explaining about the sub-task and CCing your boss is a great way to let your colleague know that he should treat this email as important. In case you missed your deadline due to your co-worker being slow, most of the time your boss will figure out by himself why the task has not been completed on time. That’s how I deal with my lazy co-workers. 🙂
CC vs BCC: When you should use CC instead of BCC?
When dealing with emails with hundreds of recipients, it might be a good idea to add them in the BCC field so as they do not know who else this email was sent to. This will also decrease the likelihood of getting spammed from someone in the list.
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