What does CC Mean in Email | How to use CC in Email

Email technology as we know it today is very old and has remained almost unchanged over the years. Some of the terms associated with email that are still in use today were borrowed from the days when communication was still on paper. I’m sure you’ve noticed the cc: and bcc: fields when composing an email. Have you ever wondered what the cc and bcc fields mean?

what does cc and bcc mean in email?

The cc field in an email means carbon copy, while the bcc field means blind carbon copy. If these terms don’t make any sense regarding an email, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll explain the context, why you need to cc and bcc in email, and when to use these fields.

You see, back in the old days when most communication was done on paper. if he had to create a physical copy of a letter, he had to insert something known as carbon paper between two sheets of paper. this is what it would look like.

What does CC Mean in Email | How to use CC in Email[Holger.Ellgaard / CC BY-SA]

With this arrangement, anything you wrote or typed on the top sheet of paper would print through the carbon paper on the button sheet of paper. the bottom sheet of paper would then be known as the “carbon copy” of the original.

As communication slowly shifted from paper to email over the years, the need arose to send someone a “carbon copy” of an email. this is how the cc field was born.

what does cc mean in email?

In effect, the cc field in an email allows the sender to send a “carbon copy” of the email to someone other than the recipient in the email’s to: field. the cc field in the email allows you to keep recipients informed.

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For example, let’s say you’re emailing a potential client with a project quote. you want to send a copy of your email to your manager, so they can stay informed. in this case, you’ll enter the prospect’s email address in the to: field and your manager’s email address in the cc: field.

what does bcc mean?

bcc stands for blind copy. Just like cc works in an email, bcc is used to send a carbon copy of the email to someone. however, unlike cc, there is a big difference in the way bcc works.

When you email someone, recipients in both the to and cc fields can see each other’s email addresses. In the example above, the potential client can see that the manager of hers has been copied into the email. To avoid this, i.e. if you want to keep carbon copy recipients private, you should use the bcc field.

all email addresses mentioned in the bcc field are hidden, so recipients in the to and cc fields cannot see them.

What does CC Mean in Email | How to use CC in Email

when should i cc in email?

From a technical point of view, the cc field works exactly the same as the to field in email. that is, it doesn’t matter if you include an email address in the to field or the cc field: the email is delivered to the recipients, and each recipient can see the other’s email address. so why do you need the cc field?

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It really comes down to email etiquette. when composing the email, the to field is for those recipients to whom the email is directly intended. on the other hand, the cc field is for those recipients who receive the email as a courtesy or to stay informed.

Generally speaking, if you receive an email that mentions you in the cc field, you are not expected to take any action.

when should you bcc in email?

The bcc field is very different from the cc field, and actually has a lot of use cases. Since the email addresses mentioned in the bcc field remain private and hidden, here are some examples where you can use bcc for your own benefit.

  • when you have to send an email to a large number of recipients, without sharing everyone’s email addresses with each other. For example, a school teacher needs to email all parents in her class, but she doesn’t want all email addresses to be public. in this case, she can put her own email address in the to field and all of the parent’s email addresses in the bcc field.
  • when she wants to keep someone informed without the recipient original know. For example, she wants to send an email to someone from her primary email account, and she also wants to save a copy of the email to her secondary email account without sharing it with the original recipient.
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what are the problems with using cc in email?

The cc field allows you to send a copy of the email to any recipient of your choice. In most cases, the cc field is used to keep someone informed or to share the same email with them. unfortunately, this creates a verbatim copy of the same email in the recipient’s inbox. Imagine the state of your manager’s inbox if you sent them a copy in every outgoing email you send. this is a quick way to clutter your inbox.

Not only that, cc emails also take up unnecessary storage space in the email account. if the email has attachments, copies of those attachments are created and delivered to all recipients named in the to and cc fields. imagine how much storage space is wasted this way.

Finally, if you use an email service that charges per email sent (like amazon’s ses), you’re wasting a credit for each recipient mentioned in the cc field. so what are the alternatives to cc in email?

what are the alternatives to cc in email?

A great way to avoid the mess that comes from using cc within your team is to switch to spark for teams. spark is an amazing email client that allows you to share an email with your teammates without creating an additional copy. you can then discuss this email with private comments, thus avoiding the added clutter of follow-up emails.

What does CC Mean in Email | How to use CC in Email

download spark for free and switch to a better email experience for you and your team.

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