Email Etiquette – When Someone CC or BCC?


Whether you’re texting a colleague or a friend on the other side of the world, email has a formality that text messages lack. For example, you wouldn’t ask your boss for a raise via text message, would you? Don’t answer that question.

Sometimes you send a message and find an error or forget to add something and would like to take it back. Under certain circumstances, you can unsend an email and try again. Gmail, Outlook, and some third-party email services have this option. Tap or click here for instructions on how to take that message back.

As with group texting, email etiquette is essential when messaging more than one person at a time. There are a few things to keep in mind to get your message across to a group and protect the privacy of your recipients. To CC or BCC? That is the question we must answer here.

CC vs BCC

If you’re messaging a small group of people who know each other, you can usually just put their email address in the To field. Want to invite some close friends over for happy hour after work? This is one way to do it.

All recipients receive the message and see each other’s email addresses. By putting all their emails in the To field, you make it clear that anyone can reply to you or the group by clicking the Reply All button.

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There are times when you don’t need everyone to respond or share people’s addresses. That’s where CC and BCC come in.

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When to CC

CC, or carbon copy, is a way to add recipients to a thread who don’t necessarily have to take action and reply. Everyone in the thread will see each other’s email addresses and have the option to click reply to all if necessary.

It’s a good idea to include a group message in the introduction of the email so that your recipients know that others are seeing the message.

There are many instances where a CC is appropriate. Here are some suggestions:

If you want to keep a colleague or manager informed, but not embarrass the colleague, CC can help. Put the manager in the To field and CC the colleague. If someone asks to be notified, CC them when sending updates about a project or event. For example, if you’re working on something with a colleague and the IT department wants to know how things are going, CC them when sending information to your colleague. If someone is out of the office and you cover them, you can CC them when you send updates related to their work.

Sometimes you might be tempted to use CC, but you shouldn’t:

If you expect a response from someone, you should address that person directly. Do not use CC to send passive-aggressive reminders or corrections. Message them directly if someone made a mistake and you want them to know. If you are adding a new recipient to an email thread, do not do so without the permission of other recipients.

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When to BCC

With BCC, or blind carbon copy, you can send a message to a group of recipients without disclosing their email addresses to each other.

Here are some suggestions for using BCC:

When you send event invites, you can BCC as many recipients as you want without worrying about disclosing their contact information. If you have a service or website that uses a newsletter, use BCC to keep your customers/customers informed. When sending a message to a large group of people, you may want to BCC the recipients. This will help to avoid large, annoying threads. It would help if you also let us know in this case, so that people know that others see the message.

BCC can be interpreted as sneaky by nature. So keep this in mind when using it. Here are some moments to avoid using BCC:

Do not use BCC for personal emails. This is similar to letting someone listen in on a private telephone conversation. BCC should be avoided in the work environment. People talk, and if they find out you’re sneaking in to recipients of messages, it can hurt your professional reputation. BCC not someone to show them an email thread. For example, if you recommend a friend to your boss for a job, don’t BCC your friend. They could accidentally click Reply All and message your boss. And if your boss finds out that you showed your exchange to your friend, things could go wrong for you.

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