BCC is a useful email feature for protecting privacy while sharing a copy of an email with an individual or group of people. It sounds pretty simple, and it is — but there’s an important email etiquette for how to use BCC in email the right way.
Most people never take a class or get specific job training on how to send emails. But when it comes to using email features like BCC it’s important to know the right way to do things.
Here’s what BCC means in email and when you should use it. As a bonus we added some tips for staying organized and saving time in your inbox.
Even if you’ve been sending email regularly for years, you might still have questions about BCC — What does BCC stand for? and What does BCC mean in email? While most people know that BCC is used to hide certain recipient email addresses, BCC function and usage etiquette still isn’t very clear.
Let’s start with what the letters in BCC stand for. BCC is an abbreviation for “blind carbon copy” much like CC is short for “carbon copy.”
Both carbon copy and blind carbon copy emails got their name after the carbon paper used to make physical copies of documents back in the 1970s when email was first invented.
By placing a sheet of carbon paper between two regular pieces of paper, you could transfer whatever you wrote on the top sheet to the bottom sheet. While carbon paper is a thing of the past, the term lives on in email.
CC and BCC both get their name from the same place, but that’s about where the similarities end. These two methods for sending copies of emails are used very differently.
While CC in email is often used for introductions, collaboration and transparency, the BCC email feature is used to ensure confidentiality and privacy.
CC is generally used among people who know each other and work closely together. BCC is often used for mass emails where recipients don’t know each other and want to maintain privacy.
Because BCC emails automatically hide the email address of everyone listed in the BCC field, they are a useful method for discretely sharing certain information through email.
Nobody wants their personal contact information shared with a group of people they don’t know. Plus in some cases, workplace rules have to be followed to maintain the confidentiality of a particular email recipient.
This makes the functionality of BCC in email useful for company-wide newsletters, sales and marketing mass emails, plus certain confidential communications.
Because BCC is used to ensure privacy and confidentiality, there’s an important etiquette to how this email feature is used.
These are common situations when sending BCC emails is generally appropriate:
- Company-wide email messages
- Organizational email newsletters
- Sales letters and marketing emails
- Other unsolicited group emails
- External client or customer relation emails
There are other situations where you may need to add a recipient to the BCC field. Using CC is often a better choice if collaboration will be needed, but BCC can still serve an important function when certain email addresses need to remain private.
Because the use of BCC in email deals with data privacy and even legal liability, etiquette and professionalism is key.
- Use BCC to send mass emails for announcements, newsletters, sales letters and marketing campaigns. But don’t use BCC when mailing groups internally. Send these emails using a mailing list.
- Use BCC for occasional mass emails. But don’t rely too heavily on the BCC feature if you’ll be sending lots of mail. Instead, sign up for a mass email service like MailChimp to handle your marketing needs.
- Use BCC to respect the privacy and confidentiality of a particular email recipient. But don’t use BCC when everyone in the group already knows each other. Use CC to keep everyone on the same page.
- Use BCC to discretely loop in a supervisor for support on client or customer issues. But don’t use BCC to loop in a superior in a passive-aggressive or deceitful way. Handle any work issues professionally.
- Use BCC in good faith to avoid overloading a recipient with unnecessary replies or sharing their contact information with strangers. But don’t overuse the BCC feature. Use BCC only when it’s warranted.
Using the BCC function in email the right way is easy once you know how. Plus, it saves time and makes you look like a pro to your team and clients.
You may be asking — How does BCC work in Gmail? Luckily, it’s a pretty simple process. You have the option to add BCC recipients every time you compose a new message as well as when you reply to an existing message.
Here’s how to send a new Gmail message with BCC recipients:
- Open Gmail and click Compose to write a message.
- Click on “Bcc” to the right of the “To” field to view the “Bcc” field.
- Enter email addresses that need to be hidden into the “Bcc” field that appears.
To send a BCC email, it’s not necessary to put anything in the TO or CC fields, although you can. If you have other recipients that need to receive the email besides your BCC recipients, enter their addresses in the appropriate TO or CC field. Click here if you’re not sure how to send a CC email.
When you combine TO, CC and BCC recipients, understand that only the BCC recipient addresses will be hidden from everyone receiving the message. Any TO and CC addresses will be visible to everyone and BCC recipients can reply to these visible addresses, so use this feature with care.
You can also send an email just to BCC email recipients with no address in the TO or CC field. In this case, all recipient addresses will be hidden, with only your sender address visible to the message recipients.
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Using the BCC feature in email the right way helps you streamline the time you spend in your inbox. Thanks to the functionality of BCC emails, you can communicate to a variety of recipients in a single message, while protecting everyone’s privacy and confidentiality.
Using BCC correctly helps cut down on junk mail, spam and unnecessary reply threads that can quickly overwhelm your email inbox, helping you and everyone you email stay more organized.
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