Nowadays, ‘Email’ is the preferred means of communication in business, used both internally and externally. It is simple, straightforward, secure, and happens in real-time.

Although email may not be the newest or trendiest method of communication, it continues to dominate business communication. We are not saying so; it is statistically proven; take a look at this survey;

“In 2019, 3.9 billion people used email worldwide, and by 2024 this number could reach 4.48 billion.”

Not only that, but even though social media marketing is flourishing, the benefits of email marketing remain. Therefore, understanding email etiquette is essential for an effective email marketing campaign, and to avoid embarrassing mistakes, especially with the CC/BBC fields of emails.

On that note, today in this article, we will give you a quick overview of the CC and BCC fields of an email, the difference between CC and BCC fields, when it is appropriate to use which field, and much more.

An Overview of the Email Recipients’ Fields

First thing first, when you log in to your email account and compose a new mail or click to reply to a mail you have received, you will get 3 different fields to enter the email addresses of the recipients (you want to send the mail).

These 3 fields are—

  • TO
  • CC 
  • BCC 

All three fields are available in every email provider, be it your Gmail account or MS Outlook. For those who haven’t noticed this yet, here is a screenshot of a Gmail account that shows the 3 fields we are talking about!

To, CC and BCC fields in Gmail

However, randomly entering recipients’ email addresses into these three fields is not what you should be doing! Why not, you may ask? Well, reading this informative write-up till the end will help you to understand it. So, continue your reading—

What Are CC and BCC in Emails?

As mentioned above, if you are into sending and receiving emails, you may have come across two “CC and BCC” fields right next to the “To” field.

Apart from the ‘To’ field (which, as per the rules of email etiquette, is meant for the main recipient(s) of your email and is used to include recipients who need to directly take action in response to the email) – CC and BCC are two other fields that you can use to include more people as recipients in an email.

What Does CC Mean?

In email sending, CC is the abbreviation for “Carbon Copy.” It is a way of sending a copy of the email (sent to the main recipient) to other people. 

What Does BCC Mean?

BCC stands for “Blind Carbon Copy.” Similar to CC, BCC is a way of sending copies of an email to other people.

What’s The Difference Between CC and BCC?

Although it seems that the role of both is the same, it is not so. There is a big and major difference between the two!

You must be thinking what? So, let us tell you that the difference between the two is that when you use CC you can see the list of recipients, but this is not the case with BCC. This is called a blind carbon copy because other recipients will not be able to see that a copy of the email has been sent to someone else.

It ends at this point that for security and privacy reasons, it is best to use the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) feature when sending email messages to large numbers of people. The reason being when you enter email addresses in the ‘BCC’ field of a message, those addresses are invisible to the recipients of the email.

Conversely, any email address you enter in the ‘To’ field or the ‘CC’ field is visible to everyone who receives the message.

When Should You Use CC?

The use of CC is debatable, as it does the same thing as adding multiple recipients in the ‘To’ field. So, let’s say the CC is more a matter of following email etiquette than anything else.

This is because the general rule states that the ‘To’ field should be reserved only for the main recipients of your email and other interested recipients can be included in CC’s field so they too can have a copy of the email.

When Should You Use BCC?

Unlike CC, BCC has more solid uses and scenarios where the BCC field might be used. So, here are the most common two—

  1. When you don’t want the primary recipient to know: The BCC field is used when you want to send an email to multiple recipients but don’t want any of them to know that you sent the email to them.
  2. When you want to send to a large list: The BCC field is also used to send email to long lists of people who do not know each other, such as mailing lists. By doing this, the privacy of the recipients is protected because they cannot see each other’s email addresses.

Now, though you know the functions of these two attributes, before you put your email etiquette into practice, let’s look at some of the dos and don’ts of CC and BCC in email.

CC and BCC — Do’s and Don’ts

There are a few things to keep in mind when using CC and BCC. Have a look at the most important points to consider before sending your important email using CC and BCC—

CC Do’sCC Don’ts
Use CC when you need to make sure someone is kept in the loop.Use CC in a passive-aggressive manner. Don’t prematurely CC someone if no one has replied to your email.
You can use CC as an FYI when you don’t need any more input from the person.Use CC to micromanage projects or employees as requiring the use of CC on all communications is stifling.
Use CC when you need to include more contacts in an already running email thread.Don’t use cc when introducing people who are working on the same project as you. You’ll want to remain a part of the conversation as you progress.
Use CC when introducing people who request introductions. Doing so allows contact details to be shared after the initial introduction without necessarily becoming part of the conversation.
BCC Do’sBCC Don’ts
Use BCC when emailing people who want you to respect their privacy.Don’t use BCC to sneak into other’s emails as a method of ‘checking up on someone.
Use BCC when sending marketing or corporate email to people at other companies.Do not use BCC when sending marketing or corporate email within your company.
Use BCC when someone introduces you to someone else to avoid getting into trouble for every reply to that original email.Do not use BCC instead, use forwarding to avoid the Reply All risk.

Why Would You Use BCC Instead of CC Field?

There are certain situations that may call for one to use BCC instead of CC. They are—

  • Using a Mailing List: Whenever you’re sending emails to multiple recipients who don’t know each other, it’s important to use BCC. This is so because when you’re starting an email campaign, the last thing you want to do is intrude on the privacy of your targets/ offend your targets by invading their privacy.
  • Sending Newsletters: If you are sending company newsletters, then also you should use BCC so that subscribers’ names and email addresses are not disclosed to each other without their consent. Here note that, if too many people are so bothered by your emails that they unsubscribe, you may end up on a blacklist, which may mark your email as spam.
  • Not Want to Disclose to The Primary Recipient: You can also use BCC when you don’t want the primary email recipient to know that you’ve included other recipients in the email in situations like; providing evidence of poor behavior to HR or looping your boss in over an issue with a customer.

Now that you know what CC and BCC stand for in email, their difference, when to use which field, and why you should use bcc instead of cc field, it’s time to see how to use the BCC feature in your respective operating system and email program!

How to Use the BCC Feature in Windows, macOS, and popular email programs?

Well because each operating system and email program have a slightly different method for adding BCC recipients. So, here’s explained step-by-step how you can add BCC recipients in Outlook, macOS and other popular email programs—

  • Steps to Add Bcc Recipients in Outlook 2016 and 2013

    To add Bcc recipients in—

    Step 1: First of all, launch your respective ‘Outlook’ version.

    Step 2: Then, from the Outlook ribbon, click the ‘Home’ tab.

    Step 3: Followed by that, click on ‘New Email.’ In doing so, a New Message window appears.

    Step 4: Now select ‘Options.’

    Step 5: From Options, select ‘Show Fields’ (three vertical dots).

    Step 6: After this, click on ‘BCC’ in the From field. By doing this, the BCC field will now be displayed in your message header.

    Option bbc

    Step 7: In the Bcc field that displays, enter ‘Recipients’ as many as you want. 

    Step 8: Finally, when you’ve finished composing your message, click ‘Send.’

  • Steps to Add Bcc Recipients in macOS

    To add Bcc recipients in macOS—

    Step 1: Firstly, launch the built-in ‘macOS email client’ and click ‘New.’ As you do so, a New Message window will display.

    Step 2: In that, click the ‘drop-down arrow’ located to the left of the Subject field, and select ‘BCC Address Field.’ 


    Step 3: Now, in the BCC field that displays in your message header, type the ‘Email addresses of your recipients’ and type the main recipient address in the ‘To’ field.

    Step 4: Finally, when you have finished composing your message, click ‘Send.’

  • Steps to Add Bcc Recipients in iOS Mail

    To add Bcc recipients in iOS Mail—

    Step 1: First of all, you need to open the ‘iOS Mail app.’

    Step 2: Then tap the ‘Compose icon.’ This will display a New Email window on the screen.

    Step 3: In that, you’ve to tap the ‘To’ field to add the main recipient’s email address.

    Step 4: Now, tap the ‘CC/BB, From’ field to expand. 

    cc bbc

    Step 5: After that, tap on the ‘BCC’ field so that inside the BCC field that is displayed, you can add as many recipients as you want.

    Step 6: Once you’ve added the recipient in the BCC field, tap the ‘Up Arrow icon’ to send your mail.

  • Steps to Add Bcc Recipients in Gmail

    To add Bcc Recipients in Gmail—

    Step 1: Launch the ‘Gmail Mail’ on your respective device.

    Step 2: Then, inside Gmail, select ‘Compose’ to open a new message. 

    Step 3: After that, in the To field, select the ‘Bcc’ (on the desktop) or ‘down-arrow’ (on mobile devices). 

    cc bcc

    Step 4: Now, you can enter ‘Recipients’ in the Bcc field that displays.

    Step 5: Once you’re done adding the recipients, ‘Send’ the composed email.

  • Steps to Add Bcc Recipients in Yahoo Mail

    To add Bcc recipients in Yahoo Mail—

    Step 1: Open ‘Yahoo Mail’ on your device.

    Step 2: Then, select ‘Compose’ to open a new message.

    Step 3: After that, select ‘CC / BCC’ in the TO field. 

    On Yahoo Mail, select ‘CC  BCC’ in the TO field

    Step 4: Now, enter ‘Recipients’ in the Bcc field.

    Step 5: Once you’re done, just ‘Send’ the mail to the recipients you’ve added.

  • Steps to Add Bcc Recipients in AOL Mail

    To add Bcc recipients in AOL—

    Step 1: Open AOL Mail and select ‘Compose’ so that a New Email window will appear.

    Step 2: In the new email window, click ‘Bcc’ after adding the recipient in the ‘To’ field. 

    On AOL Mail, click ‘Bcc’ display under the To field

    Step 3: When you do this, the Bcc field will display under the To field. Inside the BCC field, now enter the ‘individual or multiple addresses of the recipients’ you want to keep confidential from each other.

Bonus: Alternatives for CC and BCC in Email

CC and BCC are some of the oldest techniques of email that are still being used on a daily basis. However, if you wonder about alternatives to CC and BCC in email, know that you can use tools like Spike Group as a way to use an easy-to-use business chat tool with your frequent contacts. 

Even with Spike Groups, if you need to include someone else in the conversation, you can forward an email directly to that person. This way, you have less chance of making a mistake.

Note: Spike Groups is just one part of Spike’s communication system that turns your email into a chat-like instant messenger tool.

Bottom Line

That’s everything you need to know about CC and BCC in email, including when, where, and how to use the CC and BCC fields. 

So, now that you are well aware of the difference between these fields, their roles, and their usage, as well as a set of guidelines to use them effectively, go ahead and improve your email etiquette by putting them (especially BCC) into practice.

FAQs on CC and BCC In an Email

Q: What are CC and BCC?

Ans: CC and BCC are the two fields that you will find next to or below the ‘To’ field while composing an email. Both are used for adding personal as well as multiple email addresses when you want to keep people in the loop without expecting a reply from them.

Q: What is the difference between ‘To,’ ‘CC,’ and ‘BCC’ in email?

A: The difference between ‘To,’ ‘CC,’ and ‘BCC’ in email is well-explained in the table below, have a look—

Primary contact/sSecondary contact/sTertiary contact/s
Used for emailing individual or multiple contactsUsed for emailing individual or multiple contactsUsed for emailing individual or multiple contact
Email addresses viewable by allEmail addresses viewable by allEmail addresses viewable only by the sender

Q: What do CC and BCC mean?

Ans: Where on the one hand, CC stands for Carbon Copy used to send a “Carbon Copy” of your message to the email addresses you have added to the ‘CC field.’ On the other hand, BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy which is used to send a “Blind Carbon Copy” of your message to the email addresses that you have added in the ‘BCC field’, keeping the added email addresses private.

Q: How do CC and BCC work?

Ans: CC and BCC act like ‘To’ fields in email.

Q: What do CC and BCC stand for?

Ans: CC and BCC were taken from the letter-writing conventions of the previous century. where CC stands for carbon copy, referring to the piece of carbon paper used to allow you to copy a letter as you were writing it; BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy which allows you to copy people in a message without sharing their email addresses.

Q: When to use CC and BCC in email?

Ans: The answer to when you should use CC and BCC in your emails is very simple. On the one hand, you should use CC whenever you want to include secondary recipients and require a direct reply. BCC, on the other hand, should be used as is, but it will keep any added email addresses private.

Q: What is the purpose of using BCC?

Ans: The purpose of using BCC in an email may be to keep the names of the recipient’s secrets from each other and to protect their privacy.

Q: Do CC or BCC hide email addresses?

Ans: While the Bcc field will hide any email addresses you enter from your intended recipients, the CC field will not!

Q: Why should you use BCC and not CC in Email?

Ans: Here are a few specific situations why you should be using BCC instead of CC—

  • For mass messaging: If you’re sending email to a large group of people at once, such as an invitation to an event.
  • For maintaining privacy: If you don’t want any added recipients to know the email address of others. Basically, when you want to include additional recipients but don’t want the recipients to know who else is receiving the email.
  • For protecting someone from long threads: If you want to spare someone from the risk of replying to all future messages.