What Do You Mean By BCC? (Including Do's and Don'ts)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 16, 2022 | Published January 3, 2022

Updated June 16, 2022

Published January 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Emails are a vital part of personal and business communications. The BCC function plays an essential role when distributing information via email to members of an organization or clients. Understanding "what do you mean by BCC" can be helpful to ensure you communicate professionally while also demonstrating attention to detail when using this feature. In this article, we discuss BCC, contrast BCC versus CC, identify the dos and don'ts of BCC, and provide some tips to help you use CC appropriately.

What do you mean by BCC?

If you're wondering, "What do you mean by BCC" it's an acronym for the email function, blind carbon copy. This function allows you to distribute carbon copies of your email text to others with two important features. First, email addresses in the BCC field remain invisible to every other recipient. Second, contacts in the BCC field don't receive subsequent replies to the message. This function is useful when you don't want the main recipients to know others who receive the same email.

It's also a useful function when you want to send the same email to multiple people and you don't want to go through the stress of creating individual emails for them. This makes the function very useful for marketers manually sending emails to current and potential customers while also protecting the privacy of every customer. Regardless, the BCC recipient can reveal their identity in the thread when they use the "reply all" button when sending a reply to you. In such cases, the main and CC recipients get the reply.

Related: How to End an Email

CC vs. BCC

While both CC and BCC are relevant features of email communication, there are core differences in their functions across the following categories:

Meaning

Unlike BCC, CC represents the acronym for carbon copy and it refers to a function where you distribute copies of your email text to multiple recipients. It's useful for groups as it allows you to avoid creating multiple email texts for the same purpose. CC also informs the recipient of other recipients as it displays their emails.

Using CC also allows the recipients to stay informed and contribute to the discussion where necessary. For instance, you can CC your team leads to know the stage of the project completion when you send an instruction or update to another colleague. Your team lead can always stay updated and request clarification when needed.

Visual appeal

Using BCC ensures you can create a more visually organized email than CC. For example, using BCC doesn't display the long list of recipients when you have one. As a result, specially designed text and images can appear with no alignment issues and the recipient can easily get to the body of the email text.

Typical recipient

You can use CC to promote open communications, increasing accountability, self-awareness, and efficiency. Often, as this is the goal of the CC function, it's more relevant during communication with a professional colleague. In contrast, BCC is more relevant when communicating with other companies, potential clients, or customers as it prioritizes the privacy of other recipients.

Potential for discussion

In most cases, the use of BCC indicates that there's no potential for discussion between recipients because they're unaware of who received the email. Note that this still allows discussion between the sender and the BCC recipient. In contrast, the use of CC indicates there's a potential for discussion between other recipients. While the goal of the communication is merely to keep the recipients informed of such correspondence, a CC recipient can comment on the thread when they want to offer additional insight to the correspondence.

Secrecy

BCC provides secrecy and allows you to hide the fact that you emailed multiple persons. This is very useful for sensitive information where you want to keep a copy of the email. In contrast, CC doesn't offer secrecy, and every recipient is aware of other recipients in the email thread.

Do's of BCC

Here are some do's of BCC to help you ensure you're using this function appropriately:

Use BCC for communications with customers

As customers trust you with their details and information, it's important you maintain utmost privacy when handling such personal information. When sending a newsletter, update, or promotional offer to clients or customers, you can use the BCC to ensure this. Using BCC allows you to protect your client's email address from other recipients. Doing this can increase customer loyalty and improve a company's brand image.

Related: 18 Ways to Develop Communication for Managers

Use BCC for communication with many recipients

When emailing a considerable number of recipients, BCC can help you ease the process, even in a professional setting. This can be a great option when the recipients don't know each other. For instance, you can use the BCC if you're sending a rejection email to multiple applicants after the recruitment process. You can include one of the email addresses in the "To" field, then copy and past other email addresses in the "BCC" field. It allows the email to appear like an individual email when each recipient receives it.

Use BCC for impersonal email communications

Impersonal email communication involves delivering generic information to multiple people and hardly require follow-up. In such cases, it's unnecessary to share email addresses with such recipients as it has no benefit, making the BCC function a great choice when sending the correspondence. For instance, when emailing every employee in a company about a change in an internal policy, using BCC is appropriate.

Use BCC when protecting your interest

You can also use the BCC function to protect your interest as it allows you to document correspondence with others. For instance, if you feel your colleague or an individual outside your workplace behaves inappropriately with you during your email communications, the BCC can help you track it. After reporting to the human resource manager, they can require you to "BCC" them during future conversations. This ensures you can get help managing the issue. Ensure you make a formal complaint or communicate with the human resource department before doing this to avoid miscommunication.

Related: 20 Best Practices for Professional Email Etiquette

Don'ts of BCC

Here are some don'ts of BCC to help you ensure you're using this function appropriately:

Avoid using BCC for personal emails

Due to the nature of personal emails, transparency and respect are important factors that allow you to communicate freely with your recipient and make them comfortable when messaging you. Using BCC can affect this by communicating to your recipients that you're hiding something from them. They can also feel you're leaking their correspondence with you, leading them to be cautious. Using CC allows you to demonstrate transparency and protect your positive relationship with your colleagues.

Avoid using BCC if the recipient intends to reply

While BCC recipients remain hidden in the mail thread, their identity comes up when they "reply all." In such cases, the "To" and "CC" recipients also receive the content of the email. When that occurs, the "To" and "CC" recipients are likely interested in understanding why you concealed the third party, which may create a miscommunication or raise concerns about transparency.

To avoid such issues, ensure that you have a valid reason to use BCC. You can also ensure you only use it when you believe the BCC recipient is unlikely to reply. When the relationship with the BCC recipient allows, you can inform them not to reply or, where a reply is necessary, ask them to direct the reply only to you.

Tips for using CC appropriately

Here are some tips that can help you use the CC function appropriately when sending emails:

Use CC to keep your team updated

You can use CC to inform other team members and the primary recipient about certain developments. Some cases where its use is appropriate to inform coworkers and colleagues include:

  • Deliverable progress: Using CC can help you keep other team members informed about your progress with meeting project deadlines. For instance, you can CC a colleague whose task comes after yours so they know you're close to completing your part and transferring control to them.

  • Personnel changes: Personnel changes can occur at any stage of a project and using CC is a great way to inform stakeholders. You can always CC the department head and other members when instructing a new employee to resume on a specific day.

  • Request completion: Your manager or supervisor can require you to complete a task not directly related to them. In such cases, you can CC them to let them know you have completed the task.

Related: Writing a New Employee Welcome Email (With a Template and Examples)

Use CC to indicate urgency

You can use CC to indicate the urgency to your primary recipient. For instance, by adding your team manager or supervisor to the email thread through CC, your colleague can understand that it's important they contact you as soon as possible. This is a great way to remain polite while being firm with deadlines, especially when relating to team members who are your equal in rank.

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