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Using the Bcc Line in Email Effectively

Updated on February 24, 2013

The Three Address Lines on Email

Email programs contain three lines for addresses.

The To: line is for the person or persons to whom you are sending the message.

The cc: or, on some programs it appears as Cc: stands for carbon copy is used to include someone who, for whatever reason, is receiving a copy of the email along with the intended recipient (the person in the To: line).

The bcc: or Bcc: line stands for blind carbon copy and is used to send copies to additional people WITHOUT THE INTENDED RECIPIENT OR THOSE BEING COPIED WITH A CC: KNOWING THAT THESE ADDITIONAL PEOPLE ARE RECEIVING COPIES.

The Bcc or Blind Carbon Copy is the third address line on an email
The Bcc or Blind Carbon Copy is the third address line on an email | Source

Bcc Feature Is aA Great Feature for Mass Emailings

The Blind Carbon Copy or Bcc, is a nifty tool that lets you send an email to a large number of people without forcing them to scroll through three or four screens worth of addresses (or waste three or four pages of paper if they print their emails) before they get to the contents of the email.

The blind carbon copy is ideal for announcements that you send to everyone in your address book or for forwarding to everyone in your address book those great jokes that you receive in your email.

With the blind carbon copy you can send an email to ten thousand people and the only names that each recipient will see will be their name or email address in the To: line, and your name or email address in the From: line.

The names and email addresses of the other 9,999 recipients will not show because the blind carbon copy tool does not show them on the emails the other recipients receivel.

Using the Bcc Prevents Spammers From Harvesting Email Addresses When You Send to a Group

In addition to saving your recipients from having to scroll through a series of addresses to get to the message, using the blind carbon copy also prevents spammers from seeing and copying these addresses.

Of course, the people in your address book have the highest integrity and would never engage in spam mailings.

However, when they forward the great joke to everyone in their address book some of those recipients may be spammers and, if you used the To:, rather than the bcc:, line to address the copy you sent out, the spammers in your recipient's address books will now have the addresses of everyone in your address book.

When you use the blind carbon copy to send a general notice to a large number of people or to forward something to everyone in your address book you do have to put an address in the To: line. When I do this, I simply put my own address in here (you can email yourself from your own email) as it is simple and maintains everybody's privacy.

Use the Bcc Line on an Email when forwarding jokes to everyone in your Email contacts.
Use the Bcc Line on an Email when forwarding jokes to everyone in your Email contacts. | Source

Blind Carbon Copy Feature Can Be Used for Deceptive Purposes

While the Bcc feature in emails is great for sending out announcements or forwarding an email to a large number of people, I don't know of too many other uses that are not deceptive.

When you use the Bcc line in normal email correspondence you are secretly including an additional person in the correspondence. This is dishonest as the person you are communicating with directly is assuming they are having a simple two-way correspondence with you.

Most routine email correspondence between two or more people is generally very generic and no confidences are broken and no one harmed by sender secretly allowing a third party to eavesdrop on the communication.

However, when the intended recipient (the person in the To line) or one of the others in Cc discovers that you are secretly including another party in an email they may lose some trust in you.

This is not only bad for your reputation but may also cause them to be more guarded and less open when communicating with you in the future.


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    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Considering how long email programs with the bcc option have been around, I'm continually amazed at how many people don't know it's there or what it's for, and therefore never use it. When I get a group email I know will interest someone in my own address book, I copy/paste the body as a separate email before sending it along, thereby not only saving my recipient from getting hundreds of e-addys of people he/she doesn't want or need to have, but it's simply the polite thing to do.

      And, yes, I've used bcc to send an email to several people so that each thinks he/she is the only one receiving it. A nifty tool indeed! ;D

    • profile image

      Akira 9 years ago

      Much needed info so thanks for getting the word out. I've cringed one to many times when people have used cc when they really should have known to use bcc. Your hub should be a required lesson for anyone using cc/bcc. Thanks for this.

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 10 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Good point, Misha. Thanks.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 10 years ago from DC Area

      Actually I use bcc in a one more way. It's a great tool to keep somebody in the loop without disclosing this to the other party...

    • Judy Asman profile image

      Judy Asman 10 years ago from Orange

      The BCC line is a great tool for bulk e-mail! Thanks for the Hub, Chuck.

      Judy Asman Communication