When to use To, BCC and CC

Writing letters are so last century. Can you remember the last time you actually wrote a letter using pen and paper? For many of us, that would be a very long time ago. We’ve switched almost exclusively to email, and for many, this has lead to a communication revolution. While email is fairly straightforward, there are some finer points that many users fail to master, including how to effectively use the To, CC, and BCC fields.

The “To” field is the no-brainer of the bunch. It is typically used for contacts with whom you wish to communicate directly. If you add a few people here then you need to put their names in the salutation part of your email e.g., Hi Tom, Neena and Irina. If you are sending out a company wide announcement, or an email to your team, you can put the individual addresses in the To field and instead of addressing everyone individually use something like: Hello Team.

One of the unwritten but largely accepted email rules is that if an email address is in the To field, you’re saying it’s ok for other recipients to email one another regarding the email. There is a common perception that you should limit the number of people in the To field. There’s no real limit on how many addresses can be included, as long as all the recipients are directly involved in the subject of the email.

Where you can get into trouble is that having many email addresses in the To field can make the resulting email message unwieldy to read, and could anger recipients who would like their email address to be kept private. Some email programs allow users to create groups, the name of which will show in the To field to all users instead of a long list of addresses. This will often eliminate the issue of people wanting their email addresses kept private while simultaneously cutting the number of email addresses people have to scroll through.

CC stands for Carbon Copy and is usually used for people who should know about the content of the email but aren’t directly involved. As such, contacts who are CC’d are not expected to be a part of the conversation but can jump in if they want to. CC can also be used to tell the recipients that they aren’t the only people who have seen this email; if you CC management, most people will see this and will likely be more inclined to follow through on the content of the email.

Email addresses in the BCC, or Blind Carbon Copy field, will receive the email, but no recipients of the email will see the addresses listed in the BCC field. BCC is most commonly used for mailing lists, or other periodicals and for when recipients request that their email address be kept private.

You should be careful with BCC though as, for example, if you are sending an email with sensitive information to one party, and you BCC another, you get in hot water if either party finds out and is not happy about what might be thought of as secret sharing.

These are just a few simple tips to help you follow email etiquette. If you would like to learn more about better ways to use email, please contact us, we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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