How does one use the term "carbon copy" in an email setting?
Some options that come to mind are:

  • In carbon copy is my manager.
  • I'm leaving my manager in carbon copy.
  • My manager is in carbon copy.

Alas, none of these feel right to me. What's the proper way of using this term to convey the idea that someone's email address is in the box named "Cc"?

  • 50
    Why not just say "I've cc'ed it to my manager" - this is common practise, and is generally acceptable. Source
    – user252723
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 9:00
  • 2
    While I guess it's okay, it sounds overly formal in my opinion. If you want, you could say "My manager has also received a copy of this email...'"and so on.
    – user252723
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 9:08
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    When was the last time you saw a "carbon copy"?? Except when being used figuratively, the term has been replaced by "copy".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 12:36
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    "I've CC'd my manager."
    – Ben
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 15:11
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    @Luker - If the context of your question includes something like "I've never worked with native English speakers," this can be helpful to note in the question. It's not always obvious when someone is a non-native speaker here, and your question is written well enough that we can't assume you're non-native. However, it seems rather absurd because a native speaker would (seemingly) know myriad ways to phrase this in an email. Letting us know your situation helps with formulating an appropriate answer.
    – bubbleking
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 16:27

5 Answers 5


If you don't wish to use "cc" (as per your comment on Jon Hanna's answer it means something else in your native language) you can just use the verb to copy:

1.3 (copy something to) Send a copy of a letter or an email to (a third party)

‘I thought I'd copy to you this letter sent to the PR representative’

1.4 (copy someone in) Send someone a copy of an email that is addressed to a third party.

‘I attached the document and copied him in so he'd know it had been sent’

definitions from oxforddictionaries.com

I've also seen usage without the "to" or "in", and this is the usage I tend to use myself:

I've copied my manager as he will need to provide approval

As per Jon Hanna's second example, you can also use this parenthetically:

My manager (copied) will need to provide approval

My manager (copied in) will need to provide approval

As per MT_Head's comment you may also see "copy on", although to me it sounds more natural to use "copy in on":

I've copied my manager on this email as...

I've copied Steve in on this email because...

I would advise against including the word "carbon"; I've not seen it in common usage.

  • 1
    I also often see "copy (x) on", where X is the other recipient rather than the message: "I've copied Jim on this." It might be a little ambiguous out of context (did you mean you plagiarized Jim's work?), but in context it can sound a bit more natural than "copied in". As many other people have said, however, USAites will generally feel quite comfortable with "CCing" or "cc'ing" or "cc-ing" someone.
    – MT_Head
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 23:40
  • I have seen, and use, "...by copy to John, he will get with you to work it out...". I use bold to make sure the person I want to copy in also sees their name and there's some action item for them, instead of just copying in to keep them in the loop.
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 2:04
  • @MT_Head - Good point, I hadn't thought of that one. Incorporated in answer, with thanks.
    – AndyT
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 8:33

It tends to be used as a verb, and abbreviated:

I've CCed my manager.

Or parenthetically in a sentence about whatever reason you have for saying you've done so.

My manager (CCed) will have to approve this before I can proceed.

Even if you don't like using such abbreviations, I'd recommend them in this case because I think the metaphor behind the term is being lost in that some people would know CC as the term for including another recipient on an email, but not "carbon copy" as the source of the abbreviation.

  • Ironically, I overheard my manager stutter when trying to use the term "CC" in English. In our native language "CC" is an abbreviation of "'com conhecimento' de" which means "'with the knowledge' of". Typically he would just say "com conhecimento de", but since in English that does't associate with the concept of email in anyway, he was unsure of what to say. Orally, is saying "cee cee" OK?
    – Luker
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 9:42
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    Yeah, orally it's normally CC and "carbon copy" would be rare ("carbon copy" has another metaphorical use, meaning "exactly the same" that's a bit more common). I wouldn't worry too much about confusion with com conhecimento de, because context is a factor. In English cc can also mean "cubic centimetre" as is often used with medicine doses and engine sizes, but there's rarely confusion with CC in terms of emails as the contexts either is used are so different.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 10:32
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    @Davo I can't say that I like it. "Carbon copy" makes perfect sense as a metaphor, where courtesy is only one reason one might CC someone; it could well be for extremely discourteous reasons.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 11:01
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    1. I never suggested it as such. 2. I am not advocating for its use, I merely offered that some people already use this meaning.
    – Davo
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 13:44
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    CC'd looks better to me. Your mileage may vary.
    – Ben
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 17:02

There are lots of answers using the verb copy here, but an option you might consider is a more direct comment that someone is included in the e-mail/conversation:

I've included my manager in this e-mail/conversation...

Or even parenthetically:

...my manager (included in this e-mail)...


It is also common to use (ric) or (RIC) in electronic communications, which means "reading in copy". This is what I usually do when mentioning someone in my text who is not the adressee of the message but a cc recipient.

Edit (added): I should mention that I have found this abbreviation mainly being used in e-mail communication with colleagues originating from the United States or non-english speaking countries (South America, Europe, Asia). The related business context is the general area of IT (software development) and logistics (freight forwarding, international commerce).

Example: I have also spoken with my manager (ric) about this topic and we will let you know as soon as we have found a solution.

External Sources:

  • 2
    As a UK native I have never heard of this. This answer would benefit from some external reference to show that it is in common use. A quick google led me to this Quora page, where someone has determined the right acronym but still can't understand it, and the top answer explains it and then says that it's not in common use as "cc" and "bcc" are used instead.
    – AndyT
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 8:37
  • Hi AndyT, you are right, I should have clarified that in British English this is hardly found and maybe added some external references. Sorry. I will add those (references and additional details) to my answer. Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 9:25
  • I am a British English speaker, but I work in Europe (in software), and have cooperated extensively with Americans for many years. I have not previously encountered that abbreviation. It may be a logistics-specific term (which is being used by associated IT teams). Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 15:08
  • Hi Martin, thanks for your feedback. That might indeed be very possible. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 5:11

You could say:

My manager, who is reading us in copy (or CC) ...

  • 1
    We're looking for answers that provide some explanation and context. Please explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.
    – David
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 12:54
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    The phrase "who is reading us in copy" sounds very convoluted to me as a native speaker.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 14:24
  • 1
    No, this is very awkward.
    – bubbleking
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 16:21
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    Quite simply, this answer is not standard English: the manager is not "reading us": he's reading the document! And actually, you don't know whether the manager did bother to read it at all!
    – TrevorD
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 23:07

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