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Cc: and BCc: Reply Expectations

Business Email Etiquette Cc: and BCc: proper use.

Cc: stands for a courtesy copy. Back in the day, it used to indicate carbon copy — when carbon paper had to be used between pieces of paper to create copies of a typewritten document. Archaic, right?

BCc: indicates a blind copy. Meaning that there is no visible indication on the original document that anyone else was copied. But they were. So it is easy to see how blindly copying others without the visible recipients being aware could cause some conundrums and maybe even ethical issues.

With that in mind, what is expected of you when your name is either in the Cc: field or you are BCc: ‘d on an email?  This is a topic that many wonder about, so you are not alone!

Cc: and BCc: Reply Basics:

  • Cc: invites your comments, if applicable, otherwise it is just an FYI. When it comes to using Cc: only add those who need to be in the know. A response is only required when you have something to add or that is relevant to the original message. When you respond, only reply back to those who need to be aware of your comments. If the others in the Cc: field will not benefit or do not need to know the content of your reply, remove their email addresses before replying.
  • If you are Cc:’d, Reply To All is rarely prudent. In many cases comments will not contribute to efficient email communications for all involved. Things like one word replies, or saying thank you, or confirming info that only applies to you. There are times when it is not necessary for “all” to be aware of your response. Also refrain from using Reply to All to CYA. This approach will provide the perception that you are trivial and may backfire.
  • BCc: notes you are being FYI’d without the knowledge of those noted in the To: and Cc: fields (and others in the BCc:).  No rely is necessary or expected. Always think twice before using BCc: and only do so with proper intentions. Using BCc: to expose others to unrelated or sensitive emails without the recipient’s knowledge is not the sign of a true professional. Rather you will appear to be an email tattle-tail (eTattler). This can reflect negatively on your lack of professionalism in the workplace.

Copying with Discretion

Discretion means “the ability or power to decide responsibly.” If you think about it, just about everything to do with business success has to do with discretion. Use your discretion in your email activities will lend to you being perceived more favorably.

Minimize email volume by only replying and sending to those who are necessary to the conversation at hand. This will lend to your communications being taken more seriously. With the added benefit of being viewed as a courteous, efficient, and professional communicator!

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