When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (2024)

Does your mouse hover over the Reply All button 30 seconds longer than it should? Do you cringe when you're added to a never-ending email thread you shouldn't have been included on in the first place? Do you cry a single tear of joy when someone appropriately Bccs you?

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (1)

If you answered "yes" to any of the above scenarios, you know the importance of Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc etiquette.

Below, I'll dissect common email situations and explain how to answer the age-old question, "How can I piss off the least amount of people by replying to this email in the correct way?"

And if you'd like to learn how to Cc, Bcc, and Reply All in Gmail, click here to jump to the how-to section.

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc

A Reply is when your email goes to a single person -- either the person who sent the original email or the person who sent the last message in the thread you're responding to.

Reply All is when you respond to everyone on the thread. Other recipients will see a message you Reply All to, whether they're in the "To" or "Cc" fields.

Reply vs. Reply All

Use Reply when you only want to send your message to a single person in an email thread -- either the original sender of the email or the last person to reply in the thread. Reply All when you want to respond to every contact on the thread.

When deciding between Reply and Reply All, ask yourself a series of questions:

  1. Is the email addressed to me?
  2. Does more than one person need to know the email was responded to?
  3. Will the other recipients be confused if they don't see me respond?
  4. Does the email impact 70% of people on the chain?
  5. Do the others need to remain on the chain?

To help you keep it all straight, here's a helpful list to refer to when deciding when to Reply All.

When to Reply All

  1. If your response will impact at least 50% of the people on the chain.
  2. If others on the email will be confused if they don't see your response.
  3. If you're on an email with a small group of people working on the same project.
  4. If you think others on the chain might have the same question you have.
  5. If your manager solicits feedback from everyone on the email thread.

If an email is addressed to you but only one person needs to know you responded, or if you know no one else will be confused if they don't see your response, go ahead and reply to one person.

If your response will impact at least 50% of the people on the chain, if others will be confused by not seeing your response, or if others on the chain need to remain looped in, Reply All.

If a coworker gets promoted and her boss sends a department-wide email with the news, reply directly to your colleague with congratulations.

Similarly, if your CEO sends an email announcing the company crushed quarterly goals, there's no need to Reply All with a "Hooray!" or "Way to go, team!" If you have a question or comment for your CEO, reply directly to him or follow up on a separate chain.

Reply All is helpful when you're on an email chain full of people working together on a project. Everyone has access to the same information, and you can see comments and updated in real time.

If you're on an email chain where others might have a similar question or your manager solicits feedback from everyone in the group, you might have identified a scenario where Reply All would be appropriate.

But please, spare your coworkers by resisting the urge to Reply All to your boss's "I'm heading out early for a doctor's appointment" email with, "That reminds me, anyone out there have a Dentist they love?" That's what Google is for.

Cc vs. Bcc

Cc and Bcc are used to include additional recipients on an email. Use Cc when you want the Cc list to be visible to all recipients and you'd like to start an email thread with them. And use Bcc if you want to add recipients to the email, but keep the contacts on the Bcc list hidden from everyone included on the email.

Below we'll take a look at when you should use Cc, and when you should use Bcc.

What Does Cc Mean in Email?

Cc stands for Carbon Copy. When you Cc a person on an email, the Cc list can be seen by other recipients on the chain. Hitting Reply All ensures the Cc'd person receives future emails that are part of this thread.

If your response will influence other people's decision making or current thread recipients should know others are looped in, go with Cc or Reply All.

What Does Bcc Mean in Email?

Bcc, or Blind Carbon Copy, is when the recipient is sent an exact copy of the message but their email is hidden from others. This prevents them from receiving future emails on the thread.

How does Bcc work?

When an individual sends an email to a contact and Bcc's additional contacts, the sender's email system will hide the Bcc list from all of the email recipients. The Bcc list will be hidden from everyone added in the To, Cc, and Bcc fields of the email. This is how the privacy of the Bcc'd contacts is protected.

If a colleague introduces you to another salesperson over email, you wouldn't Reply All because that will include your colleague on all future correspondence between you and the person they simply wanted to connect you with.

However, you also don't want to remove your colleague from the thread without notice. Then you leave them wondering if you ever followed up or if you got their email introduction at all.

This is the perfect time to move your colleague to Bcc, and send an email like:

Re: Neville -- Scott

Hey Neville,

Thanks for the introduction, Brian! (moved to Bcc)

Neville, I'm happy to meet you. I'd be happy to move forward with ... [rest of email]

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (3)

Your colleague knows you responded, which removes any lingering doubt about whether you followed up. You've also saved them from an email chain they don't need to be included on moving forward.

Okay, easy. But what about every other situation?

  • A new employee is introduced to your team. Do you Reply directly to them or Reply All to everyone on the thread?
  • Your team is planning an event. Do you Reply with your thoughts to the organizer or everyone that will be impacted?
  • You have a specific question to ask in a thread but only one person specializes in this field. What now?

Now that you know what these different functions are, let's review how to use them.

How to Cc in Gmail

1. Click "Compose" to create a new message.

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (4)

2. Click "Cc" on the right-hand side of the email composer.

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (5)

Add a recipient in the "To" field, and then click "Cc" to add a contact to the Cc list.

3. Add a recipient to the "Cc" field.

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (6)

Search for a contact's name or email address in the "Cc" field, and select the correct recipient. When you add a recipient to the Cc list, it will suggest additional contacts. You can also search for more contacts and add as many as you'd like.

How to Use Bcc in Gmail

1. Click "Bcc" in the email composer.

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (7)

2. Add contacts to the "Bcc" field".

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (8)

When you're ready, add your subject line, email body, and hit the "Send" button.

How to Reply All in Gmail

1. Click on the email you'd like to Reply All to.

Once you click on the email, it will open up the email thread.

2. Scroll to the bottom of the thread and click the "Reply All" button.

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (9)

3. Type and send your reply.

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (10)

After you've proofread your message, click the "Send" button, and you've successfully replied to all of the contacts in the email thread.

Still unsure about Reply All? When in doubt, just try not to turn into a Reply All meme. As a refresher:

The Reply All meme is a visual representation of people's disdain for you when you Reply All in the wrong context (i.e., When you get an email that there's leftover food in the kitchen and Reply All with, "Someone grab me a cupcake!"). Save everyone the misery of a Reply All ... and get your own cupcake.

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (11)Source: Quick Meme

We've all been on both sides here, let's make the email world a safer place and use these reply options appropriately.

To learn more about email etiquette, check out these email etiquette tips next.

Topics: Sales Emails Email Tracking Software

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc (2024)

FAQs

When to Use Reply, Reply All, Cc, and Bcc? ›

You can reply to a CC email in exactly the same way as you would a normal email, however, there are few things to remember. If you want to reply only to the original sender then you should click the standard “reply” button. If you want to reply to everyone on the list, then you should click the “reply all” button.

What is the difference between CC Reply and Reply All? ›

You can reply to a CC email in exactly the same way as you would a normal email, however, there are few things to remember. If you want to reply only to the original sender then you should click the standard “reply” button. If you want to reply to everyone on the list, then you should click the “reply all” button.

In what situation would you use Reply to All instead of Reply? ›

Reply All Function

Reply All is used to reply to all email recipients. It's also used when you want to send a message to everyone on your list, or even an entire group of people. This can be helpful if you have multiple email addresses and want them all sent out at once.

When should Reply All be used? ›

Replying to all is the most efficient option when you have important information for the majority of the people included in the message thread. If your response would only affect a smaller number of recipients, then edit the list of contacts in the “To” field so that you are only communicating with those affected.

When should you use the Reply All function when replying to an email? ›

When to Reply All
  1. If your response will impact at least 50% of the people on the chain.
  2. If others on the email will be confused if they don't see your response.
  3. If you're on an email with a small group of people working on the same project.
  4. If you think others on the chain might have the same question you have.
Jul 18, 2019

What happens if a BCC replies to all? ›

Let's say someone was Bcc'd on an email and they hit reply all. Their response will be sent to the original sender, in addition to everyone in the To and Cc fields.

What is the CC in email etiquette? ›

If you expect a direct response or action, use the “To” field. If you want to keep people in the loop or send copies in a transparent way, use the “Cc” field. If someone is not meant to be a main recipient, use “Cc.” If you want a “To” recipient to know other important people are aware of the correspondence, use “Cc.”

Why you should not reply all to email? ›

When you use reply all, there's a chance you're including people who no longer need to be included in the email chain, wasting their time with each new email. Sometimes someone on the chain has a side thought about the conversation.

Why do people not use Reply All? ›

It's a bit like pointing out that someone did something wrong in an in-person meeting. Doing so shames the other person in front of others. If you need to disagree or inform someone of a mistake—do so directly. “Reply all” is not necessary to state that you received or will take action on an email.

Why do people use Reply All? ›

When there are other members CC'd. If you are sent an email and other team members are CC'd, the rule of thumb is to always keep those team members copied (meaning always use Reply All). Chances are, they were copied for a reason, so they likely need to know about your response too, not just the sender.

How do you politely tell someone to reply all? ›

Simply state up from to please reply to all in the current distribution. If someone doesn't honor the request, reply and state that you are adding so and so back to the thread.

When should you use BCC? ›

Typically, people use BCC for mass emails that don't require a response and to hide the email addresses of recipients to protect their privacy. However, some people may use BCC to make a person aware of a conversation without the primary recipient knowing.

How do you tell someone not to use Reply All? ›

Use the “Reply Directly To” feature to specify who should be receiving the email responses from recipients. Add a reminder to “little r” (aka reply directly) to you instead of replying all at the end of your emails. Consider sending an IM or starting a group chat instead (if it makes sense to do so).

Is it polite to reply to every email? ›

While experts don't agree on a proper response time for emails, they do concur that just about every email deserves an answer. If a simple response (“Got it, thanks” or “Sounds like a good plan”) will suffice, try to reply as soon as you read an email.

Does CC mean they can reply? ›

In keeping with email etiquette, you shouldn't expect a cc'd recipient to reply. Cc recipients are people who should see the email but don't necessarily need to take action or respond to it.

Should you reply if you are in CC? ›

CC is short for carbon copy or courtesy copy. The email is being sent to you mainly for your information or to keep you in the loop of the conversation. No further action is expected. However, if you have something necessary or important to contribute to the conversation, you may respond directly to the sender.

Can someone CC in an email reply? ›

If you need to CC more contacts in your reply to an email, you can follow similar steps. Open the email you received and find the CC option. On a mobile device, this may be under the pull-down menu option typically located in the right-hand corner of any message. Click CC and add your contacts to the message.

What's the difference between CC reply and BCC? ›

In e-mail terminology, Cc stands for "carbon copy" and Bcc stands for "Blind carbon copy". The difference between Cc and Bcc is that carbon copy (CC) recipients are visible to all other recipients whereas those who are BCCed are not visible to anyone.

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