Carbon copy in business letters

(The distribution list in English business letters)

Table of contents – distribution list

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Use of the distribution list
  2. Further explanations

What are the particularities of the distribution list (cc)?

The distribution list indicates who else should receive a copy of the letter in addition to the direct recipient. In English business letters, this list is referred to as carbon copy. The term dates back to the time when carbon paper was utilised for copies of a document.

In terms of formatting, the note is left-justified and positioned directly below the term for enclosures. It is abbreviated with ‘ccwithout a full stop. In some cases, the word ‘copy’ or ‘copies’ replaces the abbreviation. You may place a colon after the note, but you should ensure that the same style is used throughout the letter (consider closed and open punctuation).

Accordingly, the following options for naming additional recipients (carbon copy) are possible. Moreover, mind that the position of the recipient is also mentioned in most cases:

  • cc
  • copy
  • copies


In a typical business letter, the carbon copy may appear like this:

Example distribution list in English business letters

Note for the use in emails

In emails, you may also find the abbreviation ‘bcc’, which stands for blind carbon copy, in addition to the distribution list ‘cc’. Being the recipient of the email, you can see which other regular or cc-recipients have also received the message; the bcc-recipients, however, remain hidden.

Further explanations related to the ‘Carbon copy in business letters’

The following explanations refer to the topic ‘Carbon copy / distribution list in English business letters’ and could also be interesting: