What is CC in Email: When To Use and When Not To

Learn why using CC sparingly can enhance your email etiquette and prevent cluttered inboxes. Discover the dos and don'ts of using CC and BCC.

What is CC in Email: When To Use and When Not To

Email is one of the most important communication tools in the professional environment. It is widely used for important communications, sharing files, and collaborating with colleagues. The way we use email over time has evolved, but some things are still the same. Cc is a commonly used term in the context of emails. In this blog, we will discuss what cc and bcc mean in email and how it is used in professional communication.

As per a report by Statista, the number of global e-mail users is set to grow to 4.6 billion users in 2025. The numbers are constantly increasing year on year which is a sign that emails are not going away any time soon. So it becomes important to understand the terminologies associated with email.

What do CC and BCC stand for?

In email communication, cc stands for “carbon copy” and bcc stands for “blind carbon copy“. The term originates from the days when people used carbon paper to make copies of documents.

Why Carbon Copy

In the past, when someone wanted to make a copy of a document, they would place a sheet of carbon paper between two sheets of paper. When they wrote or typed on the top sheet, the pressure would transfer the ink or impressions onto the bottom sheet via the carbon paper, creating an identical copy.

When email was developed, it included a feature that allowed users to send copies of an email to multiple recipients. This feature was called carbon copy because it was similar to the carbon copying process used for physical documents.

Today, even though carbon paper is not commonly used, the term cc has stuck around in email communication as a way to indicate that the email is being sent to additional recipients besides the primary recipient in the “To” field.

Email Carbon Copy might not involve physical carbon papers but the intention behind it is the same.

In addition to cc, there is also the term bcc, which stands for blind carbon copy. Bcc is similar to cc, except the email address of the bcc recipient is not visible to the other recipients. This is often used when the sender wants to keep the identity of the bcc recipient confidential.

The use of cc and bcc in email communication is important in professional settings. It allows for clear and transparent communication between team members and keeps everyone informed of important information. However, it is important to use cc and bcc judiciously, as overuse can lead to cluttered inboxes and email traffic. When using cc, it is important to include those who need to be aware of the content of the email.

carbon copy email

What does CC mean in an email?

Cc is a notation used to indicate that an email is being sent to multiple recipients, in addition to the primary recipient or the “To” field. In other words, if you cc someone on an email, they will receive a copy of the email, but they are not the primary recipient. Though it’s worth noting that the cced recipients would get to know the primary recipients.

The use of cc is often seen in group emails, where a message is being sent to a team or a department, and everyone must be aware of the content of the email. Cc is also used to keep a record of communication, especially in situations where multiple people are involved in a project or decision-making process.

email cc


In this email, Steve and John will receive a copy of the email along with the attachments (if any). They’ll also get to know that Ana has sent this email to [email protected] and they are cc recipients.

What does BCC mean in an email?

Bcc is a feature in the email that allows you to send a copy of the email to someone without the other recipients knowing. This means that the recipient in the Bcc field will receive the email, but their name and email address will be hidden from the other recipients. Bcc is similar to cc, but with the added privacy element.

bcc in email

In the following email, the recipient and cced recipient won’t get to know that the same email has been bcced to John.

Why use CC in an email?

Cc can be used in various situations, including:

  • Cc can be used to keep someone informed about a conversation or project without them being the primary recipient. This is useful when you want to keep someone informed, but the conversation or project doesn’t require their direct involvement.
  • To provide information: Cc can be used to provide information to someone who may need it. For example, if you are sending an email to a colleague about a project, you may Cc their manager to keep them informed about the progress.
  • To show transparency: Cc can be used to demonstrate transparency in a conversation or project. By copying someone on an email, you are making sure that everyone is aware of what is going on.

Why use BCC in an email?

There are several reasons why you may want to use bcc in an email. One reason is when you want to keep someone informed about a conversation, but don’t want to reveal their identity. This is useful if the person in the bcc field is not directly involved in the conversation, but needs to be aware of what’s going on.

Another reason to use bcc is when you want to send a mass email, but don’t want to reveal the email addresses of all the recipients to each other. This is particularly important if you’re sending an email to a large group of people who may not know each other, or if you’re sending an email to clients or customers who may not want their email addresses shared with others.

When you should avoid CC and BCC

Using cc and bcc in email communication can be useful, but it’s crucial to use them judiciously. Here are some reasons why you should avoid using cc and bcc unless it’s necessary:

  • Cluttered inboxes: When you cc or bcc someone on an email, it adds to the clutter in their inbox. This can make it difficult for them to find the emails that are important and relevant to them. Additionally, it can be overwhelming to receive a large number of cc or bcc emails, leading to important emails being missed.
  • Privacy concerns: When you cc or bcc someone on an email, you are sharing their email address with others. This can raise privacy concerns, especially if the email is being sent to a large group of people. Additionally, if the email contains sensitive or confidential information, it can be risky to share it with a large number of people.
  • Confusion and misunderstandings: When too many people are included in an email conversation, it can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. It can be difficult to keep track of who is saying what. Also, it can be unclear who is responsible for taking action. This can lead to delays and errors in completing tasks or projects.
  • Unnecessary emails: Including people on an email who don’t need to be there can lead to unnecessary emails being sent. This can be a waste of time and resources, as people may spend time reading and respond to emails that are not relevant to them.

Good practices for using BCC

When using bcc in an email, it’s important to be mindful of the professional etiquette surrounding its use. Here are some tips on how to use bcc professionally:

  • Bcc should only be used when there is a legitimate reason for keeping someone’s identity hidden.
  • Avoid using bcc as a way to secretly copy someone into a conversation without the other recipients knowing.
  • Be transparent: If you are going to use bcc, be transparent about it. Let the person in the bcc field know that you are going to include them in the conversation, but that their identity will be hidden from the other recipients. This shows that you respect their privacy and are not trying to deceive anyone.
  • When using bcc, it’s important to use a clear subject line that reflects the content of the email. 
  • An email is a professional form of communication, so it’s important to use a professional tone when using bcc. Avoid using bcc for personal or confidential information, and always be respectful of the privacy of others.

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cc meaning in email

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