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Business Email Cc: Use

Business Email and Cc: Use Etiquette

There’s a lot more Cc’ing going on now that folks are working from home. Time for a refresher.

Originally known as Carbon Copy back in the day of typewriters, Cc: is now referred to as Courtesy Copy. So, when is it appropriate to use the Cc: feature in your business email?

Use Cc: with Discretion

From what I am seeing, using Cc: is a discretionary call that some are unable to make. Using the Cc: field is up to one’s better judgment based on the specific situation at hand. What is “appropriate” seems to be subjective based on what the Senders intent and what they are trying to accomplish.

As I am sure you know, the most common use is to keep folks involved in a particular issue on the same page. By Cc’ing contacts, you are informing them. However, they are not required to reply.

Use Cc: Selectively

What you do not do is Cc: contacts on a reply to an email sent to you. Unless they need to be made aware of the current conversation.

And you mention that in your reply. “I’m Cc’ing, Jane and Jim because…” You want the original Sender to understand why you included additional contacts. Do not overuse or abuse Cc; as a way to FYI everyone and their brother simply because you want to FYI.

That is, unless they are specifically involved in that particular conversation, event or issue. If it is not important that they be brought into the loop, do not Cc: them.

Bringing in 3rd Parties

I’m a big proponent of down-editing your replies on ongoing conversations. However, when you bring in third parties after the fact by Cc’ing them, you risk the original Sender’s message being misinterpreted. They will not have the full thread to get caught up.

It is situations like this it is best to start a new email, summarizing the points of importance. Cover what has been discussed thus far and Cc: those you want to bring into the conversation.

Otherwise, a conference call or in-person meeting may be the better alternative. Email should not be a replacement for all other communications..

Personal Motives

If you Cc: for personal reasons or office politics alone, such as trying to make points with your boss/supervisor or by “e-tattling”, you may not get the response you expect. These actions are not one of a team player.

Once you take this approach, don’t be surprised when the others involved respond in kind. Also know that you have jeopardized their trust.

In the end you look petty and unprofessional. Always stop and consider if Cc’ing certain contacts will be received positively before doing so.

With the above in mind, also be selective when using “Reply to All“. Think about if “all” need to be involved in the reply.

One last tip…

It is always prudent to remove any recipients that are not necessary to, or interested in, the ongoing conversation. Review all addresses (To: Cc: BCc:) that your reply will be sent to and remove those that are not necessary.

Now that you know how to use the Cc: field, you won’t be clogging others inboxes with irrelevant, petty or CYA email that does not apply to them. And you’ll be viewed as a professional and efficient communicator.

Care to share?