To BCC or Not BCC

I have been surprised the number of people and contacts who are completely unaware of the differences between the To: CC: and BCC: fields when addressing emails. Understandably, it’s not really common knowledge.

There is a little bit of documentation around regarding these fields, but none are all that clear, in my view.

To:

Add contacts who you are directly communicating with. There is nothing wrong with a list of emails, as long as there is no problem with each recipient being able to see the other contacts.

If multiple recipients are entered in this field, it should be appropriate for each contact to email each other.

CC:

Known as Carbon Copy or Courtesy Copy. This field is exactly like the To: field, except it isn’t required to be filled.

CC: acts more like a differentiator for contacts who may want a copy of the email but are not required to participate in the conversation, i.e. management. It basically says, ‘this email is directed to you but these people are reading it too‘.

Those who would appear in the CC: field should have filters applied.

BCC:

Blind Carbon Copy is where you put contacts who shouldn’t see the should not be seen by other contacts. Commonly used for mailing lists [and spam], this field can also be useful to exclude emails from appearing for courtesy’s sake.

No matter the scenario, I think it is rude to assume someone is comfortable with their email being displayed to other people. For instance, an invitation to a party – not everybody knows everyone else and so, it may be inappropriate for each contact to be displayed.

When using BCC, add your own email in the To: field to ensure yours is the only address shown.

Also check our Effective Email Tips post.

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