"Blind CC" (Bcc): Master Its Use When E-Mailing
by Steve Singleton

If you use Microsoft Outlook (or similar applications) for e-mailing, then you are familiar with the fields at the top of a new mail message, right? Of course, in the "To..." field, you enter the name of one or more persons you intend to receive your message. Use the field labeled "Cc..." (for Carbon Copy - remember how they did it back in 1978 BC, "before computers"?) for anyone who needs to view your e-mail but is not the addressee.

But there's an additional field that you should know about, labeled "Bcc...," which stands for "Blind carbon copy," or the updated version, "Blind courtesy copy." This field is for the names of anyone that needs a copy of your e-mail without the other people (in the "To..." and "Cc..." fields) knowing about it. That's why it's called "Blind."

"But wait a minute," you might be saying. "I don't have a "Bcc" field just after the "Cc" field in my version of Outlook." When you launch a new mail message, you might have "To...," "Cc...," and "Subject..."--nothing more. That's because "Bcc" is on a toggle; you can turn it on and off from your "View" menu. If your "Bcc..." is not showing, you can turn it on when you are in a mail message by going to the "View Menu" and selecting "Bcc Field." A checkmark will appear and the field will become visible at the top of your mail message, just above "Subject...". (Similar applications should also give you the option to turn "Bcc" on if it is not continuously visible.)

You should know about and carefully use "Bcc" for a number of reasons. I'm going to cover some of the most important.

Use Bcc to protect privacy - When an e-mail is sent to a whole group of people with all of their names in the "To..." or "CC..." fields, each one of them has access to the e-mail address of all the others. Normally this would not be a problem internally, but if you are sending an e-mail to employees as well as some outside of your company, use the Bcc field to hide all of those internal addresses. You will be preventing your company's people from getting spam and other unwanted e-mails.

Use Bcc to keep upper management informed - Sometimes you are sending an e-mail message at a manager's request, and you want to let the manager know that you complied. It may not be helpful, however, to make the manager's name visible in "Cc," because this may add stress or cause unnecessary concern for the addressee. If you consider that to be the circumstances, use Bcc for the manager's copy. But this is always a judgment call, because sometimes it is important for addressees to know the manager is looking over their shoulder, especially if you have a tight deadline.

Use Bcc to make your message more personal - Do you feel differently about a message addressed solely to you versus one sent to all of your company's employees? The same principle works in the opposite direction, as well. If you place everyone's name in the Bcc field, then each will have the impression that you wrote your e-mail just for them. Be careful in your wording, however, because this tactic will backfire if your letter contains second-person plurals, such as "All of you may be wondering...".

Use Bcc to keep an archive of your correspondence - This nifty trick depends of having or obtaining a separate e-mail address from your conventional business address. Place that address in the Bcc field, e.g., "yourname@freemail.com," and Outlook will send a copy of your e-mail to that address. This can be helpful if you are wanting a quick way to keep track of all of the e-mail you send out regarding a particular project or issue.

Caution: When Bcc can backfire - There are times, however, when you should think twice before entering a person's name in Bcc. If your addressee hits "Reply to all," the reply will not go back to the BCC addressee(s). But still, that reply might not be worded as carefully as it would be if the sender knew everyone listed in Bcc. To put it bluntly, this is how people get insulted and feelings get hurt. If you are dealing with an issue that is the least bit touchy or even volatile, you would do well to steer clear of Bcc.

About the Author

Steve Singleton has worked as a writer, editor, reporter, and public relations consultant. He has taught college-level Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses, as well as seminars in 11 states and the Caribbean. Go to his TeleprompterPlans.com for the plans to build your own video production teleprompter, plus much, much more.

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