Writing Email
Illustration by Neil Webb

Writing Email

with Judy Steiner-Williams
lynda.com's PMI® Program
This course qualifies for 1.00 PDUs towards maintaining PMI® certification. Learn More

Video: Copying and bcc'ing recipients

CC is the email abbreviation for courtesy

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Watch the Online Video Course Writing Email
1h 13m Appropriate for all Apr 01, 2014

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Discover the secrets to writing powerful emails your colleagues will read and answer by crafting your message and delivery. In this short course, author and business writing professor Judy Steiner-Williams shows you how to write emails for maximum readability and impact. Discover how to craft a compelling opening, how to message the right people at the right time, and how to leverage etiquette to use email as one of many communications tools.

This course qualifies for 1 Category A professional development unit (PDU) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.

Topics include:
  • Using email as a communication tool
  • Understanding the right time and the right tone to strike
  • Crafting strong subject lines and messages
  • Respecting confidentiality
  • Copying and bcc'ing
  • Including attachments

  • The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
Judy Steiner-Williams

Copying and bcc'ing recipients

CC is the email abbreviation for courtesy copy and BCC stands for blind courtesy copy. The meaning of these abbreviations has been adjusted since back in the day when the first C was used for carbon as in carbon copy and blind carbon copy. Since the day of carbon paper is long gone, the C now refers to courtesy. A copy or a blind copy can be a courtesy if used correctly. If they're are used indiscriminately, the result may be seen as discourteous and unprofessional.

Understanding what the copy and the blind copy functions do and how to use them are the easy parts. A good rule of thumb is to use To, for people who are required to take action. CC, lists those you want to keep informed but need take no action. And BCC, include those you want to receive the message without any of the other recipients knowing. The difficult aspect of using the copy and blind copy, is analyzing the possible repercussions of using those functions. CC is certainly a good way to send your message to the main recipient, while also including others to be certain that everyone gets the identical message.

The term, keep everyone in the loop, is sometimes used for those who are copied on the message. However, be certain that the folks being kept in that loop need or want access to that loop. Those on the CC list are usually not expected to reply. Those recipients are in the CC field for one reason: FYI, for their information only. Sending that blind copy can be useful when you don't want those in the To or CC fields to know that others are receiving the message. The potential issues of using both of these functions must be considered.

Everyone who is CC'd has his or her email address visible. That means that all email addresses are exposed to people they may not know or people they may not want having their email address. This is usually not desirable. Most people do not want their email address exposed to the public. However, sometimes putting all of the addresses in the To or CC fields is appropriate and expected. For example, work related emails to those who already know each other and already have access to those addresses.

Another concern is that numerous recipients in the CC field can become quite long and can even overshadow the message. On the other hand, putting email addresses in the BCC field is the solution of the CC problem of letting everyone see the addresses. Those addresses in the BCC field remain hidden from everyone, providing much more privacy. But, using the BCC field has its own set of concerns. The BCC is sometimes used when the email sender has some possible ulterior motive, for wanting the blind recipient to see the message.

The takeaway is to use both the CC and the BCC cautiously and appropriately.

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