The Virtual Activist 2.0

How to Create A "Bcc" Email List

The simplest way to create an email list for Internet activism is to use your regular email software. The most common products you might use are Qualcomm's Eudora, Microsoft Outlook, or Netscape Mail. To create your own email activism list, you will need to be familiar with two features of your email software: the address book and the "Bcc" field.

Using Your Email Address Book

Most email software programs have a feature that lets you set up an address book where you can store the email addresses of friends, relatives, and business associates. Most email address books will let you store hundreds or even thousands of names, making it a useful tool for creating a simple announcement-only email list that you can use to send out action alerts, press releases or email newsletters.

For example, if your organization occasionally sends out press releases, you can set up an address book entry labeled "Media" to store the email addresses of reporters and editors so you won't have to send individual messages to each of them. In the example below, we created an address book entry labeled "Media" in Netscape Messenger. The first two email addresses in this "Media" entry are and . (The other addresses aren't visible in the screen shot of the address book.)

Using the "Bcc" Field

When the email addresses have been entered in the address book, your list is ready to use. But you'll want to send messages to the list without disclosing any of the recipients' addresses. So if you haven't already been introduced to the "Bcc" field, it's time to get acquainted.

When you open a "New Message" window in your email software, the message form will usually include a header that looks something like this:


(Note: In some email software, "Bcc" is not included in the default setting of the header display. If you don't see it, check the "Help" file or the User Manual that came with the software, or contact the software company's support service by phone or email.)

Using the Media list in the example above, here is how you can send a message without revealing the reporters' email addresses: Type "Media" in the "Bcc" field of the message header (instead of in the "To" field) and type your own email address in the "To" field. When the reporters receive the message, it will appear to have been sent from and received by you, and will look something like this:



     Subject: PRESS RELEASE: CARAL lauds FDA approval of mifepristone
     Bcc: Media

Always use the "Bcc" field if you send email to a list you've created in your address book!

Using the example above, if you had typed "Media" in the "To" or "Cc" field, all of the reporters' addresses would have been displayed when the recipients opened the message. There are two problems with this. First, some people prefer not to disclose their email address. Also, if the address list is long, the header will be long. This is annoying to some people because they have to scroll through screens full of addresses before they see the message. If your list contains several hundred addresses, just imagine how annoying it will be to scroll through all those screens! Here is an example of an email message from someone who neglected to use the "Bcc" field:

    From: "Jane Doe" <
    To: James King <
>, Alan Williams <>,
        Dave Garrison  <>, "Jennifer Reilly" <>,
        "George Kelly" <>, "Thomas Jones" <>,
        Gina Rogers <>, Dan Stevens <>,
        Vincent Davis <>, Ron Butler <>,
        "Marc Smith" <>, Tony Altura 
        <>, "Jeffrey Carr" <>,
        "Michael Milton" <>,
        Peter Boyd <>, "Susan Smith" <>

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