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I am familiar with the concept of Carbon Copies (CC) and Blind Carbon Copies (BCC).

CC's are used as a means to inform individuals and keep them in the loop on a given topic.

  • Replying to team member regarding the status of a development server? CC your team lead to keep him/her in the loop.

What I am not familiar is the latter's use within the workplace.

I am knowledgeable in that it should be used when sending mass emails, i.e. newsletters, marketing material, etc. But cannot think of a situation within the workplace where the features it offers would offer a meaningful impact.

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    As to BCC not having a meaningful impact, I don't think it needs to have a meaningful impact in order to be useful to some people. Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 5:43
  • Side note: "CC" does not stand for "carbon copy"; it stands for "copies". There is a convention in English that is not used often, that when you have a one-letter abbreviation, to make it plural you double the letter. For example we abbreviate "page" as "p" and therefore "pages" is "pp". "Line" is "l" so "lines" is "ll". And "copy" is "c" so "copies" is "cc".
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 14:29
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    CYA is a good usage for BCCs
    – Michael
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 17:57
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    @Jay Do you have a reference for that? Every source I've ever looked at says either "carbon copy" or "courtesy copy." Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 18:47
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    It might be more accurate to say that ORIGINALLY "cc" was the plural of "c" = "copy", but so many people today think it stands for "carbon copy" that maybe now it does. :-)
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 21:20

3 Answers 3

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It's used when you don't want the recipient to know that you've sent the email to someone else as well.

For example, you assign someone a task and you BCC in your manager to prove what you've said.

Or you're emailing a third party and want to copy in someone else without exposing their email address to the third party (you don't want an external supplier to know your procurement officers email address, for example).

It can also be used to mass mailings when you don't want to share email addresses of recipients with each other (protecting each recipients privacy).

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    One more use case you could add in your answer. Sometimes I'll say "Putting Janet in the BCC. Thank you for introducing us Janet". This lets Janet know that I've replied to the person she introduced me to, but this lets her know she won't be part of the thread anymore. And sometimes, I've been Janet too, I'll introduce two people, but I could be the one who wants to be cut out from the later discussion. Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 5:32
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    It can also be used to mass mailings when you don't want to share email addresses oif recipients with each other (protecting each recipients privacy) This is the most common use. The others methods are more of a CYA tool.
    – Neo
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 11:51
  • Can the "CCs" and "Tos" see who's been BCC'd? Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 17:43
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    @AffableAmbler - No, they can't. That's what the BCC is for.
    – user44108
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 17:48
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It is common if you get an e-mail with someone in cc and you answer it, you "answer all" so the cc´d person is kept in the loop while the topic progresses.

Now if you want to spare the copied person from receiving all the further communication, you can blind-copy them so the original recipient won´t automatically include them in the "answer all" function.

I think @Snark Shark covered the rest.

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    Good point regarding the "Reply All" protection - that hadn't occurred to me.
    – user44108
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 8:40
  • Is this true for all email systems?
    – Neo
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 11:52
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    Using BCC is technically similar forwarding/coping of a mail to a different recipient, so yes the recipients (the ones in the "To:" address and in the "cc") do not even get transmitted the information about BCC´s
    – Daniel
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 12:11
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Using BCC instead of CC prevents reply-all email storms. In very large organizations there is a risk that someone might choose the reply all option when replying to a message that was CC'd to a company-wide distribution group. Some other users might continue replying to the thread asking to remove them or, contradicting their own advice, telling everyone that they should stop clicking the reply all button. Each message will be broadcasted across the whole company, eventually bringing the whole email system to a complete halt until IT administrators intervene and stop the propagation of the emails.

When using BCC the initial reply will go only to the original sender.

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