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Oct 17, 2022


What are CC and BCC, with examples of when to use them

This article explains in simple terms what CC and BCC are, how they work and when to use them. By the end, you’ll never worry about when to CC and BCC again.

Blog writer

Lawrie Jones


Blog writer

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Table of contents

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What do CC and BCC stand for?

Here's the simplest explanation of CC and BCC and how they’re different.

  • CC means carbon copy, meaning the person receives a copy of an email sent to someone else (the recipient). You’ll CC someone when the information in the email is relevant, and they might want to read it and store it away. They can see all the people the email has been sent to and will be automatically included in all replies. They can also see the addresses of everyone involved.
  • BCC means Blind Carbon Copy, and it works the same way as the CC field, but other email recipients won’t see the address of the BCCed person or be notified that a copy has also been sent to someone else. When someone replies to the message, you won’t receive a reply if you’ve been BCCed. The recipient won’t see who else has been BCCed.

Simple right? Then why do so many of us get it wrong? Let’s take a look at things in more detail.

To find out an answer to your question, use these links to scroll down to the right section of this post quickly:


  1. What does CC mean in email
  2. When to use CC in email
  3. What is the point of CC in an email
  4. Four examples of CC in email


  1. What does BCC mean in email
  2. What is the point of BCC in email
  3. When to use BCC in email
  4. Thee examples of BCC in email


  1. What is the difference between CC and BCC

What does CC mean in email

OK, so what is CC in an email? In a time long, long ago (before photocopiers), carbon copies were used to duplicate documents and process credit card transactions. You push down on a carbon sheet, creating an identical copy below. 

What has that got to do with email? Very little, but it’s now part of our life. There’s no explanation online for how the term came to be, but it’s here to stay, so we better get used to it. 

When you send an email to someone, it’s usually to get them to act. It could be an invoice, a request for help, applying for a job etc. They’re active in the conversation.

When you CC someone, you’re sharing information that may be relevant to them, but they’re not required to act (at least, not at this time).

Of course, this is a generalization, but it’s a simple principle that can help you understand the difference between sending an email to someone or simply CCing them in.

One thing to remember is that every email has to have a recipient. You can’t just CC people in. (If you don’t believe us, try it).

When to use CC in email

OK, so when to use CC in an email? Let’s say you’re booked off holiday and must send a leave request.

When you send an email to someone, you want action. CC, you’re doing it to give them information. 

It’s easier to explain in an example using the leave request:

  • You address the email to your boss, who will approve the email (Action)
  • You CC your job share partner to let them know (Information)

If you think about the To and CC address boxes, it is easier to decide who goes in which box. In this instance, your boss will be expected to respond. 

Your job share partner might respond, but they don’t have to.

Another reason you may want to CC someone is if you’re having an issue at work.

  • You address the email to the person you’re having a problem with (Action)
  • You CC your boss so they can see what’s happening (Information)

You can see some other examples of when to CC someone below!

When not to CC someone in an email

Do you find your email account is clogged up with unnecessary emails? Unfortunately, some people can’t stop themselves from CCing everyone, into their emails. Don’t be that person!

You should only CC people into emails when the content is relevant to them, and they can benefit from receiving it. Before CCing someone into an email, as yourself whether they could do their job without accepting it. If they can, then don’t send it. 

What is the point of CC in email?

The CC field plays an important part in standard email etiquette. A CC is common courtesy (see what we did there?) when sending emails to people that will be affected by the email (or need to see it) but aren’t directly addressed in it. 

When an email is addressed to us directly, we have to act. CCed emails can, in many cases, be filed away and stored. They don’t need to be actioned, at least not yet.

You can see some reasons why you may want to CC someone in an email below.

4 examples of CC in email

Here are 4 examples of how to use CC in an email conversation.

1. You want someone to be updated on a conversation but don’t require action from them

Our examples above are situations where someone may want to stay aware of a conversation but doesn’t need to be actively involved in it (at this moment). 

It might be that you’re emailing a customer about the progress of their order and want to copy your manager so they can understand the progress. Or you are updating your team on the progress of a project. 

The key is to ensure the email is relevant before CCing someone in.

  • You address the email to the person you want to do something (Action)
  • You CC the broader team so they can see progress (Information)

2. There are multiple parties involved in a matter, but not all are active

Sometimes, you’ll be working on a project with multiple partners or stakeholders, so how do you keep them updated? By CCing them into emails. 

This keeps them up to date with progress and ensures they have access to the latest developments. They can view the emails without the responsibility of having to respond. If they need to dive in, they can do it any time. 

  • You address the organizational lead (Action)
  • You CC her team, so they know what’s happening and can jump in if they need to  (Information)

3. You want to introduce people

Introductory emails are a common reason to use CC. For example, let’s say you’re introducing a colleague to a customer. They’re involved in the email, but it’s not directed at them.

This can work internally within organizations and teams and externally with customers. 

  • You send an email to the customer (Action)
  • You CC the person being introduced (Information)

4. When sharing company news internally

CC is a great option when emailing large groups of people, including entire teams and even entire organizations.

For example, let’s say you’re sending out an email newsletter. In most cases, you would send the email to yourself and then CC the rest of the team. 

  • You address the email to yourself  (Action)
  • You CC the team who receives the whole newsletter  (Information)

What does BCC mean in email

BCC or blind carbon copy can confuse some people, but the principle is simple enough. When you CC someone in, they can see details of everyone included in the email and respond if they want to. When you BCC someone, nobody in the email chain knows they’re there.

BCC is like secretly sending an email to someone. Why would you want to do this?

There are several reasons, including data protection. You may not want everyone who receives your newsletter to see the complete list. 

You can also use BCC to send a copy of correspondence to yourself when you’ve made a complaint about someone, for example. 

  • You send the email to someone (Action)
  • You BCC the recipient(s) who you want to have a copy  (Information)

What is the point of BCC in email

You might be wondering what the point of BCC in an email is. There are several reasons, as we outlined above:

  • Protecting the identities of an email list
  • Providing information to someone about a sensitive matte
  • Copying in someone who has been the subject of a complaint
  • Secretly copying correspondence to yourself

You might think using BCC is sneaky, but that’s not the case. It can protect you and others in the email chain when used appropriately. Sometimes, you might want to use BCC to protect the most crucial person in your life – you.

When to use BCC in email

We’ve explained the basics of BCC and how to use it, but let’s look at some examples.

3 examples of BCC in email

1. You want someone to see an email without other recipients knowing

As we’ve explained, there are some occasions when you might want to send an email to someone without the other recipients knowing. 

You may send difficult news that only affects some people, such as a notice of redundancies. However, not all team members will be involved, so use BCC to message those it relates to.

As an example, you could BCC to deliver difficult news.

  • You address the email to yourself (Action)
  • You BCC the person (or people)  you want to receive the email (Information)

2. You have multiple recipients (say an extensive list)

People are protective about their email addresses, so protect them by using BCC.

Let’s say you’re sending out a newsletter. You can address the email newsletter to yourself and then BCC all recipients into the message. This way, you protect yourself and the privacy of anyone else on the list. 

  • You address the email to yourself  (Action)
  • You BCC in everyone who is receiving the newsletter, so they don’t have to view hundreds (or thousands) of other emails (Information)

3. You want to send a copy of the email to your secondary email address

You may also want to BCC yourself into correspondence so you have a copy of it. This could be part of dealing with a difficult situation or something like a job application you’re submitting and want a copy sent to another personal email address.

  • You address the email to the person you want to do something  (Action)
  • You CC the broader team so they can see progress  (Information)

What is the difference between CC and BCC

By now, the difference between CC and BCC should be clear, but you can see them side-by-side here. 

Carbon copy (CC)

  • When you CC a recipient, everyone can see they have received the email
  • The email has to be addressed to someone (you can’t send an email just using CC) 
  • The email is for information, not necessarily for action

Blind carbon copy (BCC)

  • When you BCC a recipient, they can see the message
  • The email has to be addressed to someone
  • The BCC recipient can’t see anyone else who has been BCCed
  • The recipient and anyone else involved in the email correspondence won’t see who has been BCCed

If you CC someone, can they see previous emails?

Absolutely! If you CC recipients can see all the previous emails if you involve them in a pre-existing email thread.

If you’re happy they see old emails, keep them CCing them in. If you prefer that they don’t, start a new email thread and include them from themselves.

Still confused about the difference between CC and BCC? Give it a go!

Try them out if you’re still unsure exactly how CC and BCC work. You can set up some test emails if you’ve got multiple email accounts and see how it works.

Then, play around by CC and BCCing yourself into correspondence. It should soon become clear how it all works!

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