When you email multiple people, you may see the option to designate some recipients as “CC” or “BCC” by typing their name or address into cc or BCC fields that appear below the “To” field. The acronym “CC” refers to “carbon copy” or “polite copy.” Each person listed as a CC recipient will receive a copy of the email and can see the list of CC recipients. Those listed in “BCC”, which stands for “blind carbon copy”, also receive a copy of the message, but no one else can see that they have received it.
What does CC mean?
The term may seem esoteric today, but “carbon copy” was once a common term in letters from the office. When letters are typed or handwritten, a sheet of charcoal paper is placed behind the document to transfer a pencil-like copy of the typed or written document to a second sheet of paper, which can be saved in one file or sent to another recipient.
Charcoal paper has been phased out in favor of copying and sending electronic messages such as email, but the term CC still exists in most email programs. People often use CC to send copies of emails to others involved in a transaction or to their boss or employees, who may be involved in a certain issue later. A person who gets CC on email is often not expected to respond. The term “CC” can be used as a verb, as in “please CC for me on that message.”
In less formal environments, people can CC to each other on email to plan vacations, share photos, or communicate with multiple people simultaneously.
In addition to traditional CC, you can send someone a BCC via email. In that case, that recipient will receive a copy of the message, but no one else can see that they have received it.
The BCC designation can be used to notify someone of a sensitive issue without disclosing that you are doing so. It can also be used as a security measure so that those who receive a wide letter cannot see each other’s contact information or names.
“Reply all” to the BCC message you receive is often considered a bad rule because it reveals that you have received a copy of the BCC, which was not the sender’s intention. In some cases, someone may publicly say that they are transferring a recipient on the message string to a BCC status to let that person and others know that they are no longer involved in the correspondence and do not need to receive additional messages.