If you’ve used an e-mail program, you’ve probably seen the CC: and BCC: options when you were addressing your message. If you’ve missed these things, you’re missing out on some of the most effective ways to send e-mail to large numbers of people. Here’s a quick primer on how to use these tools to send e-mail messages to multiple recipients with ease.

CC: stands for “Carbon Copy” (or “Courtesy Copy”, a quaint remnant of those joyous days when courtesy was common). When you use the CC function in your e-mail program, you are sending a duplicate copy of your message to one or more secondary addresses. Everyone you send the message to knows who else received it. That’s because the CC function displays everybody’s e-mail address in the header of the message. BCC stands for “Blind Carbon Copy” (or “Blind Courtesy Copy”) and as the name suggests, you can send a duplicate copy of your message to many people without the primary recipient knowing.

To send the same message to many people, most users just include a number of e-mail addresses in the “To” or “CC” sections. This is a route you should use ONLY if you are sending something to a group of people who need to know who else got the message. If you are sending a message to dozens of people, all of your recipients have to scroll down past all the e-mail addresses to get to your message. This is fine for family and friends, but considered rude in business. Who wants their e-mail addresses splashed all over cyberspace?

The best way to send messages to multiple recipients is by using the BCC function. This method lets you send dozens or hundreds of people the same message without having to display everyone’s e-mail addresses. Your recipients will appreciate this feature as it maintains everyone’s privacy. 

Once you have more than say 30 people you’re e-mailing regularly with newsletters etc., you’re probably better off switching to an online mailing service. There are plenty of free options out there. Personally, I am a fan of MailChimp (http://www.mailchimp.com). The service works well. It’s free. There’s a sense of joy communicated through the site that I quite enjoy. Life should be fun, no? The folks at MailChimp seem to be managing to have fun while providing a great service.

It’s been often said “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”. We don’t really know who is on the other end of an e-mail and we have to make judgements about people and companies based on what we read. Using BCC to send e-mail to multiple recipients shows that you understand this little piece of “netiquette”. Minding your on-line manners helps create and maintain your professional image. It also shows people that you care about their privacy.