Carbon Copy

Definition of Carbon Copy

In technology, “carbon copy” (often abbreviated as “cc”) is a term used in email communication to indicate sending a duplicate copy of the email to additional recipients aside from the primary recipient. The “cc” feature enables transparency and information sharing among multiple email recipients. However, unlike “blind carbon copy” (BCC), using “cc” means that all recipients can see the email addresses of the other recipients.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Carbon Copy” would be:Carbon: /ˈkɑr-bən/Copy: /ˈkɑ-pi/

Key Takeaways

  1. Carbon Copy (CC) is a feature in email clients that allows you to send a message to multiple recipients simultaneously, keeping everyone in the loop.
  2. Using CC is useful for team communication, ensuring transparency, and providing updates to people whose input may be valuable, but are not expected to actively participate in the discussion.
  3. However, overusing CC or including unnecessary recipients can lead to cluttered inboxes and reduced productivity, so it’s important to use the feature judiciously.

Importance of Carbon Copy

The term Carbon Copy, often abbreviated as CC, is important in the realm of technology as it denotes a widely used function in email communication, allowing users to include additional recipients to a message without making them primary recipients.

The purpose of using CC is to keep multiple parties informed, fostering transparency, facilitation of group discussions, and enhanced collaboration.

The term historically originates from the use of carbon paper, which was utilized to create copies of typed or written documents simultaneously.

With the advent of technology and the shift to digital communication, the concept of “carbon copy” adapted to the electronic realm, emerging as a significant and indispensable feature in the age of widespread internet usage and online collaboration.


Carbon Copy, often abbreviated as CC, is a critical feature in email communication that serves to include multiple recipients within the same correspondence. Originally rooted in the practice of creating multiple copies of a document using carbon paper, CC now plays a vital role in ensuring that important stakeholders are kept in the loop during discussions, obtaining necessary updates, or acquiring approval.

By adding recipients to the CC field of an email, the sender is notifying the main recipient that the information being shared is also intended for these additional parties, thereby promoting transparency and open communication among the involved individuals. The use of Carbon Copy not only allows for easy dissemination of information, but also actively engages recipients who may have a vested interest in the matter at hand.

For instance, a manager might CC their team members on an email discussing project updates to keep them apprised of the conversation. Additionally, CC can uphold a sense of accountability, as marked recipients may no longer be able to remain unaware of a situation or claim ignorance.

Furthermore, the inclusion of several key personnel encourages collaborative problem-solving, as everyone is privy to the same information and discussions. In summary, the Carbon Copy feature promotes efficient communication, transparency, and teamwork in various professional and personal contexts.

Examples of Carbon Copy

Document Duplication: Before the digital era, carbon copy paper was widely used in businesses, banks, and institutions to create a replicate of the original document. An individual would simply place a sheet of carbon paper between two regular sheets of paper, so that when they wrote or typed on the top sheet, the pressure would transfer an identical copy to the second sheet. This allowed organizations to keep a copy of records, invoices, and agreements easily without needing to write everything twice.

Carbonless Copy Paper: Carbonless copy paper is a more modern alternative to traditional carbon copy paper, also used for creating duplicates of original documents. Carbonless paper contains micro-encapsulated dye or ink on the back side, which reacts with a special clay layer on the front side of the next sheet when pressure is applied. This chemical reaction creates a copy on the second sheet, eliminating the need for a separate carbon paper. This is commonly used for receipt books, order pads, and multi-part forms.

Email Carbon Copy (CC): In the digital world, the concept of carbon copying has been adapted to email communication. When sending an email, the “CC” (carbon copy) and “BCC” (blind carbon copy) fields allow the sender to include additional recipients who will receive a copy of the message. CC recipients are visible to all, while BCC recipients remain hidden. Using these features ensures recipients are informed or included in the email correspondence, while retaining an accurate record of communication.

Carbon Copy FAQ

What is a Carbon Copy (CC)?

A Carbon Copy (CC) is a feature used in email communication. It allows you to send a copy of an email to recipients other than the primary recipient, for informational purposes, while keeping them aware of the conversation.

How do I use the CC feature in an email?

To use the CC feature, simply click on the “CC” button or field in your email client while composing a new email. Enter the recipients’ email addresses, separated by commas. The recipients will receive a copy of your email, and they will see that it is a carbon copy.

What is the difference between CC and BCC?

CC (Carbon Copy) and BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) are both used to send copies of an email to additional recipients. The main difference is that with CC, the email addresses of all recipients are visible to everyone. In contrast, with BCC, the email addresses of the BCC recipients remain hidden from other recipients.

When should I use CC in an email?

You should use CC when you want to keep additional recipients informed about an email conversation, but they are not the primary recipient. CC is helpful when you want to make sure that multiple recipients are aware of the information at hand, and it promotes transparency in the communication process.

Is it possible to CC someone on a reply email?

Yes, it is possible to CC someone on a reply email. When replying to an email, simply add the desired recipients in the “CC” field. They will receive a copy of the reply and will be able to see the email thread for better context and understanding of the discussion.

Related Technology Terms

  • Email communication
  • Blind Carbon Copy (BCC)
  • Multiple recipients
  • Email visibility
  • Email etiquette

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents