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I was curious what the BCC feature of e-mail stands for and just found out that it stands for “Blind Carbon Copy.” Now I have a new problem: does this term - blind carbon copy - exist in terms of paper letter? If yes, what is it?

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Oh, it's a secretary question. Yippee :)

You would send "blind" carbon copies if you sent out copies of a letter to more than one recipient, but purposely omitted the cc: notation at the bottom. You might do this for a fundraising letter, for example, in which it would be inappropriate to reveal the list of people from whom you were soliciting donations. Another example might be if you were sending form letters of regret to the unsuccessful applicants for a position.

To me the real question is why we refer to "carbon" copies of "electronic" mail at all!

speedwell2 December 13, 2004, 4:20am

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The usage in email dates back to the time when word-processor operators still used White-Out on their screens.

spaztic December 14, 2004, 2:16am

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Should've suggested the following to the "e-mail consortium":
ec: not cc: for e-mail copy
bec: not bcc: for blind e-mail copy.

Now, is it e-mail or email, E-mail or Email, E-Mail or EMail?

Unggit Tjitradjaja December 16, 2004, 8:10am

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The term "blind carbon copy" originated with paper letters. A "carbon copy" recipient is one whose name is shown at the bottom of the page as a recipient and who receives a copy. CC is visible.

A "blind carbon copy" recipient is one whose name does not appear, but who receives a copy anyway. Thus, the named recipients are "blind" to the fact that such a person received a copy. BCC is hidden.

All these terms were later copied from paper mail into email.

Thomas December 16, 2004, 11:32am

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This post has some good thoughts:

I prefer "e-mail." "E-mail," with the capital E, would only be used if the word "electronic" would be capitalized in the sentence, and "email" is French for "enamel."

speedwell2 December 16, 2004, 11:34am

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To Thomas;
I'm trying to understand (logically) this bcc concept.
For example, Bcc: John Doe.
If you hide the "Bcc: John Doe", that is, not typing it on the document, how does one (the sender) keep track as to whom the doc is sent to? Imagine this in the Legal arena.
But, if it is "typed", which copy, the top (the Original/Master)? Does it have an "area" without carbon (or carbonless) so that the extra copies do not get to see the "Bcc: John Doe"?
Of course with the e-mail (I, too , prefer this version, e with the dash), it serves both; the sender does know to whom the doc is distribruted to (a "sent" copy is kept on HDD) and that the cc: does not see the bcc: (while he/she sees the cc:).

Unggit Tjitradjaja December 17, 2004, 6:23am

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For the record, I vote for e-mail (with dash).

Now, a new question regarding cc correctness:

What do you suppose is the proper past tense of cc? In our office we frequently use cc now as a verb, to "cc" someone. Each time I try to type it in an e-mail, I have to look at it for a long time, then I decide on cc'ed, an unsatisfying choice.

Anyone have an opinion on this?

Patti February 6, 2008, 4:25am

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Another reason I like to use BCC for certain emails is to keep all the recipients from getting the email addresses of everyone you sent it to. Also, I have 2 friends who REALLY don't like each other. I'd just as soon not remind James that I'm cc'ing Jack with the same silly joke I thought they'd both enjoy. So I blithely send it to myself and put everyone else in the BCC line of my email.

As you can see, I use cc as a verb, as in, "I have carbon copied Joe on this letter," since "copied" is certainly usable as a verb (though there may be debate on the phrase as a verb.) Since cc is an abbreviation, I use the apostrophe to indicate missing letters, though I'm not sure that's strictly correct in this case--it's not positioned to accommodate all the places where letters are missing.

Patricia February 6, 2008, 10:09am

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Yes     No