CC vs. BCC: What’s the Difference Between These Two Email Fields?
When referring to email, “cc” means carbon copy and “bcc” means “blind carbon copy”. Both “cc” and “bcc” are additional fields you can enter when sending an email.
Every recipient email address you enter into the “to” and “cc” fields will be able to see each other. The email addresses you add to the “bcc” field will not be visible to the “to” and “cc” recipients or the other “bcc” recipients.
Last Updated September 2023
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Addressing an email
When you send an email, you have three field choices: “to”, “cc”, and “bcc”. Here is how to use each field:
- To: enter the email addresses of the people the email is targeted to
- Cc: enter the email addresses of the people you want to know about the email (remember that everyone will see their names)
- Bcc: enter the email addresses of the people you want to know about the email but not announce to everyone else that they are getting a copy
Why would you “cc” someone on an email?
Carbon copying someone on an email is a great way to keep them in “the loop” and allows them to know what is going on without actually being involved. It can be a useful way to remind people of what happened at a meeting or to remind them to take action on something. Carbon copying also makes the recipient aware of who else is looking at the email. This is often used in business settings to get the primary recipient (the “to” field) of the email to take the message more seriously or to let them know that it is important.
Why would you “bcc” someone on an email?
Blind carbon copying someone to an email is common when you want to keep the recipients’ privacy. One example is to use BCC when emailing a long list of people who do not know each other like in a mailing list. Another reason to blind carbon copy someone is to keep them in the loop of a conversation without letting the other recipients (the “to” and “cc” fields) know. In business, this can be used to tattle on someone by blind carbon copying your superiors on an email thread. Blind carbon copying also prevents the recipients listed in the “bcc” field from receiving any “reply all” emails.
CC and bcc example
When you fill out an email with the following information:
- From: You
- To: John Smith
- Cc: Kerry Thomas, Lindy Davis
- Bcc: Mark Villis, Spike Moor
All of the recipients (including Mark Villis and Spike Moor) will see the following email header in their email message:
To: John Smith
Cc: Kerry Thomas, Lindy Davis
Notice that none of the recipients will know who the bcc recipients are. Both of the bcc-ed recipients will realize they were bcc-ed but neither Mark nor Spike will know who else was bcc-ed with them. If any of the recipients listed in the “to” or “cc” fields respond by using the “reply all” email function, then everyone except the people listed in “bcc” field will receive the email message. For example, if Kerry responds using the “reply all” function, then you, John, and Lindy will receive the message, but Mark and Spike will not.
If you are interested in learning more about the ins and outs of email, try taking this course on how to write better emails.