At the point when email supplanted customary types of office correspondence, it took on the current language of paper updates. Office partners used to compose correspondence on carbon paper so a duplicate would be made consequently, which could then be shipped off a subsequent beneficiary. It killed the need to compose similar record on numerous occasions.
The term carbon copy, or more commonly, “CC,” is now an integral part of email jargon. And while there’s no manual on how and when to use it, there are a few best practices worth keeping in mind before you fill out the CC field and hit submit.
How to CC in Gmail
The use of CC in today’s email parlance means that you are sending an email not only to the primary recipient in the “To” field, but also to one or more secondary recipients. In Gmail, you can CC up to 100 recipients in any email.
To fill in the CC field in Gmail:
- Click Compose to open a new message.
- Complete the To field by inserting the primary recipient’s email address.
- Click CC at the top right of the email editor.
- Insert the email addresses of the secondary recipients.
Once you’ve clicked Send, your email will be sent to your primary recipient in the To and any email recipients you’ve included in the CC field. All recipients will be able to see all other email addresses, so make sure you have consent to share your contact details.
When to CC in an email
While CC is a useful tool for both saving time and improving communications, it is often used too liberally, disregarding basic communication etiquette. As such, our list of when to CC is relatively short:
When you want to keep recipients informed
Be careful about keeping people “in the know.” If you overuse it, you risk flooding your recipients with too many emails that they just won’t read.
Think about whether each recipient really needs to be copied. Does the email contain information they need, or are you just adding another email to your inbox?
As a general rule of thumb, we suggest that the people who need to stay in the loop are:
- Managers or colleagues who specifically request to be CCed on all or specific communications.
- Members of a team who need to stay on top of a project.
When you are entering a contact
When you email someone to introduce them to another contact, you want both parties to see the email so they can continue the conversation later. It’s up to you whether you add the new contact in the To or CC field here, although using CC is perfectly acceptable.
When not to CC in an email
Overcrowded inboxes can be a real problem for efficiency, and it’s natural for people to prioritize more urgent emails over correspondence that’s simply CCed. If you routinely CC one of your contacts in your wider correspondence, before long, they’ll stop reading your emails altogether. This could cause important information to be lost along the way.
Be careful with this feature so you don’t unnecessarily CC people and flood them with more mail than they need.
When you don’t have the proper consent
When used liberally and thoughtlessly, CC’ing can cause unwanted problems. Let’s say you’ve been in email communication with a colleague and then suddenly decide that another colleague could also benefit from being include in the thread. Before you just CC them in your next reply, be sure to ask both parties for permission first. There could be sensitive information deep within the existing thread that the new contact should not see.
When you expect a response or action
Consider only CC recipients from whom you do not expect a response or direct action; in fact, most email recipients automatically assume that no action is need on their part if they only receive CCs. If you want a recipient to reply or take action, it technically needs to be place in the To field.
Before you hit send, look at your CC field and think about what you expect from each of those recipients. Depending on their responses, consider moving the appropriate contacts to the To field instead.
When you want to embarrass someone or prove a point
It is not unusual for people to use the CC field for cynical reasons. You may have received an angry email from a colleague with your boss copy. Or your manager may have called you out about an action you’ve take and been tempt to show that you’ve already cheat on the relevant correspondence.
Using CC for passive-aggressive or punctuation reasons is not good practice and should be left alone.
Why CCing Your Boss With Every Email Erodes Trust
Many employees have had times when they are working through their emails for the day and CC their boss or a colleague. It’s not malicious, they’re just trying to keep everyone informed.
What’s wrong with that?
According to a study of 584 people, 345 people said they trusted their co-worker less when they CCed their boss in an email. The study also noted that trust in the organizational culture is likely to be low if this happens frequently. With this in mind, even if you mean well, think before you copy your boss in an email to a co-worker. Unless requested or absolutely necessary, your colleague may not appreciate it.