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What is Cc and Bcc in email and When to Use it – Email etiquette for students

What is Cc and Bcc in email

In this article, we are discussing what is Cc and Bcc in an email and when to use To, Cc and Bcc fields in your email. A single email may need to send to multiple recipients. There are different fields where you can put your recipients. Here is how to confidently navigate those fields so you’ll never end up making a blunder.

CC stands for “Carbon Copy” and BCC stands for “Blind Carbon Copy”. There is no confusion if you are sending the email to just only one person. In most email clients by default, the Cc and Bcc will not be visible and you need to click on the options to make it visible.

When to use To field

To field is the most commonly used field and is used for the primary recipients of the email. Put the email address of those recipients if it is for their attention and you require an action or response from them. It is also a good practice to include all the people you included in the to field in your greeting or address.
Example: Hi Ram, Raj, Gokul, Anny.

If there are more than four people in the to field it is ok to start with Hi all or Hello Team.

When to use CC field

The Cc field is for people that you’re not talking to, but you want them to know what’s going on. You use this field when you are not expecting your recipient to take any action or respond to your email. For example, you seek some permission from your HOD through email and you Cc your class tutor in the loop. Here the people included are able to see who is the list. That is the people in Cc is able to see who the mail is To, and the ones in the To is able to see who is there in the Cc.

Many times, you may come across the scenarios where you may have to reply to the person in Cc. In such cases, you have to move the person from Cc to To. A good practice is to announce your use of the CC field to the emails of the main recipient. For example, “I’m cc’ing my colleague Ram who’ll be following up with you for the status of the project”. Use this feature with utmost care also. Using CC as a power play to make others feel less important if they’re actively involved in a decision or project will cause problems.

When to use BCC field

The third field is the blind carbon copy, the Bcc which is a little tricky. This is a way of cc’ing someone on mail without letting other recipients knowing that the person has been cc’ed.  For example, If you send a mail to your HOD, cc’ied to your Tutor and blind carbon copied to your friend, neither your HOD nor your tutor can’t see your friend’s email address in the list. And they will be unaware of the fact that a third person is reading their message. Anybody who’s blind carbon copied is hidden from the rest of the recipients. Use this option with caution as in some situation it may cause danger or embarrassment. For example, if your friend on Bcc accidentally hit reply all instead of reply this alerts the main recipients that at least one other person was secretly copied. To avoid such risk, you can just forward the original message to the third person.

The best use of the blind carbon copy field is to protect one another’s privacy. For example, if you need to email a large list of people the same information but those people shouldn’t be able to see the email addresses of all the other recipients.  In this instance, you may want to include your own address in the TO field and keep everyone’s email secret in Bcc.


If you’re talking to the person and they have a reason to respond, use the To field. If it’s just a for your information or keeping people abreast on what’s going on with a project or a certain communication, use the Cc field. The best use of the blind carbon copy field is to protect one another’s privacy. Misusing any of these fields can make you look like a rookie. Use them well, and don’t let people get hung up on wow why did they use the Cc field when they’re actually addressing that person. Before you hit send.  Check those fields carefully to make sure you’re making the right choices and adjust your options if you need to.

To learn how to well craft a subject line check out my blog Email subject line best practices

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