Writing Style – Copying a Third Party

A BizWritingTip reader wrote: Help us settle a debate: If the letter content is identical and you want two parties to be aware that the other party has received the same information, can you send just one letter and CC: the other person? Or, do you have to send each person two copies of the same letter?

BizWritingTip reply: When you put a copy notation at the end of the letter, it means you have sent two separate documents — the original to the person to whom the document is addressed and a copy to the person at the bottom of the page.

The person to whom the document is addressed is considered the primary reader.

If the two people are of equal importance and you expect a response from both, I would send two separate letters and note the other receiver’s name on the copy to line. However, I would send only one document to each person – even though they have been copied on the other identical letter. After all, we’re drowning in paper. There’s no need to add to it.

Another option would be to mention in the body of the letter that you have sent a duplicate message to the other party. There would then be no reason to use a copy to line.

Note: The term cc (carbon copy or complimentary copy) in a hard copy letter is outdated. I suggest using just one C. or typing out Copy to.