What is the difference between Cc and Bcc in an email?

Henry James

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When we are going to write an email, we find a “To” field, another “Sender” and “Subject”. Although we can also visualize two more fields Cc and BCC. But what is the difference between Cc and Bcc in an email? These fields are not required to be filled out, this means that we can send an email without even writing anything in them. In many cases, they can even be hidden in the user interface.

What are these fields for?

The Cc and BCC fields are fields that allow us to enter an email or several. When we send a message, everyone who is included in the Cc and Bcc fields will receive it.

Cc stands for Carbon Copy and BCC (CCO) stands for Blind Carbon Copy. This is a term coined from a real-world relic; carbon paper. Carbon paper is paper that is coated with ink. It is inserted between two papers and writes on the paper at the top; automatically copied onto the paper below thanks to the carbon paper.

We must take into account that Cc and BCC (BCC) do not send separate messages. Instead, the same message, the same thread, will be send to everyone.

Difference between Cc and BCC

The differences are simple; the emails that are enter in the Cc field are visible to all those people to whom the message is send. Instead, the email addresses that we send from the BCC field are hide. This means that if we want to send an email to several people, but we don’t want them to know that we have sent the same email to all of them, we should enter the emails in the BCC field.

We must bear in mind that using the BCC field would basically be like recording a meeting or allowing someone else to listen to it without the people in said meeting knowing that we are doing it. Therefore, CCO should be use sparingly; it could cause us some problems in certain situations.
However, you are already clear about the main differences between the Cc and BCC fields, which, as you will see, are notorious. If we do not use email for work issues, it will be very rare that we use these fields.

Bcc, replies, and email threads

Note that BCC does not work like CC when it comes to email threads. For example, if you send an email to bob@example.com and CCO jake@example.com, Jake will receive the original email you sent. However, if Bob responds, Jake will not get a copy of Bob’s response. Bob’s email program can’t see that Jake ever received the email, so it doesn’t send him a copy of the reply.

You can of course continue to BCC Jake in future emails or forward him a copy of the reply. It’s also possible that Bob could remove Jake’s email from the CC field and reply to you directly if you CCed Jake instead. However, people are much more likely to get all the replies in an email thread if you CC them. You will need to keep them informed if you are using them in BCC.

In practice, a lot of this can be down to email etiquette and different people will use these fields differently, particularly the To and CC fields. Don’t be surprised if you see them used differently.

When to use CC and BCC

CC is useful when:

  • You want someone else to receive a copy of an email, but you’re not a primary recipient.
  • You want the recipients of the message to know the other people the message was send to.

BCC is useful when:

  • You want someone else to receive an email, but you don’t want the primary recipients of the email to see that you’ve sent this other person a copy. For example, if you have a problem with a co-worker, you can email them about it and BCC the human resources department. HR would receive a copy for their records, but their co-worker would not be aware of this.
  • You want to send a copy of an email to a large number of people. For example, if you have a mailing list with a large number of people, you can include them in the BCC field. No one could see another person’s email address. Instead, if you CC these people, you’ll be exposing their email addresses and they’ll see a long list of CC emails in their email program. You can even put your own email address in the To field and include all other addresses in the BCC field, hiding everyone else’s email addresses.

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