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Writing Professional Emails: Part 1 – Understanding the Recipient Fields

4 mins read

This article is written to provide you with details around the recipient fields in an email, along with understanding the main purpose or functions of the To, CC (Carbon Copy), BCC (Blind Carbon Copy), and Subject Line.

The main purpose of writing an email is to communicate. Whether the communication is meant for informational purposes, decision making, or to get clarification around a subject; it is always important to ensure that the message is sent to the right personnel pertaining to the subject at hand.

There are times when you are required to send an email message that is meant for multiple people, but for confidentiality reasons, you want to keep the recipient list private. In circumstances like this, the email creator would use BCC. This ensures that the same message is sent to the correct recipients, without their awareness of who else received the email. It could be quite embarrassing or, potentially career ending, if you were to send an email out that breached confidentiality.

This is why understanding the main functions/features of the recipient fields such as To, CC (Carbon Copy), BCC (Blind Carbon Copy), and Subject Line are important.

To: these are the individual(s) who you are directly in conversation with, usually those who you are expecting to respond to the message or need to be made aware of what you are communicating.

CC: are the individual(s) who you want to be aware of what you are communicating, usually these individuals are those who may have some further input to the message or who you want to keep informed.

BCC: is meant to protect the privacy of the individual(s) an email is being sent to.

It can be tempting to CC or BCC someone’s boss in an email response; however, this can come across as passive-aggressive or in some cases be perceived as blindsiding the recipient(s). This type of communication is faux pas and can lead to hurt feelings, which can create a toxic work environment.

Subject: Should be well-though out and brief. The subject line summarizes the content and purpose of the email. Vague subject lines are less likely to grab the reader’s attention. If your message requires action from the reader, specify that action (along with a due date) in the subject line.

When considering writing an email, it is important to check your intention on who you are going to be sending the email to and ensure to check that the correct recipients are selected. There may be instances where employees may have similar names and it can be embarrassing or worse, a breach in confidentiality if you were to send an email to someone for whom the message was not intended for.

You will want to double check that the subject line provides the recipients with a clear understanding of the purpose of the email, which may also include if the message requires action from the readers; in some cases, this may also include specifying if there is a due date to complete the task.

For more information on Writing Professional Emails, be sure to see Part 2 of our Email Etiquette series, “Greetings and Writing Styles.”

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