Out of office messages are automatic email replies, or autoresponder email messages, that go out to colleagues, customers and clients when you are away from work. They let others know you are unavailable for contact and when they can expect a response to their emails. Depending on why you are out of the office, you might need to include certain details in the message. In this article, we list some examples of out-of-office messages you can use.
What are autoresponder email messages?
Autoresponder email replies, or automatic emails, are a notification that you receive when you are reaching out to a person who is currently unavailable. These types of messages typically give you information such as:
- How long the person will be unavailable
- Contact information of who to reach out to in their absence
- When they will return
Why is an out of office message important?
Out of office messages are significant if you know you will not be able to respond to emails for a period of time. They tell your contacts why your response will be delayed and how to get the information or services they need while you are away.
Coworkers, clients and subscribers typically expect fast responses and solutions to their problems, particularly from people working in customer service, marketing and communications jobs. Out of office messages provide them with a polite, concise and professional explanation as to why you cannot respond right away. You can provide an OOO message if you are gone for one day, one week or several months. Reasons you might set up an out of office message include:
- Going on vacation
- Going to a conference, workshop or professional meeting
- Being on maternity or sick leave or a sabbatical
- Taking a personal day
- Going to an appointment
Out of office messages might include information like:
- Why you are gone
- How long you will be gone
- The date you will return
- Who to contact in an emergency or for immediate help
You might provide more details depending on your job duties and the information you think your contacts need while you are away. Most professional email programs allow you to set two OOO messages at once—one for internal colleagues and one for external business contacts.
What to avoid in automatic replies
Out of office messages should remain professional and realistic. You should consider avoiding:
- Giving too much detail. Automatic replies should be simple and to the point. Avoid adding any information to the email that is unnecessary.
- Saying you will respond as soon as you return. It can take time to catch up on emails, phone calls and projects when you return to the office. Try not to set the expectation that you’ll be able to respond to a missed message immediately upon your return.
- Commiting a colleague's assistance without consent. It’s helpful to include the contact information of a colleague for any urgent matters that arise in your absence. However, it’s important to gain your colleague's permission before including their information.
Out of office message examples
Here are some OOO messages you can consider based on type:
- Short term
- Out of reach
- Out of office but checking emails
- Maternity or paternity leave
- Medical leave
- Social media
- Contact sharing
A short and professional OOO message is often all you need to communicate the main details about your absence.
Thank you for your message. I am out of the office until May 25 and will have limited email access while I am away. If you need immediate assistance, please contact our advertising representative, Jules Carter, at email@example.com or 303-555-1059, ext. 4. Otherwise, I will respond to your email when I return.
You might make your OOO message more approachable if you typically communicate in that style. Friendly or even funny out of office messages might be more appropriate for social media professionals, for instance.
Thanks for reaching out! I'm currently in New York celebrating my sister's wedding and will be taking a break from email while I'm supporting her on her big day. I'll respond to all my messages as soon as I'm back in the office on Aug. 11. If you need help before then, please email my assistant, Jerry Fielding, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great day!
Social Media Coordinator
If you are setting up an OOO message for internal contacts within your company or department only, you might provide information specific to the projects you are working on. You might also be able to use a less formal tone depending on your company's culture.
I'm out of the office until Jan. 9 and will respond to emails when I return. If you need to access the blueprints for the Apex Architecture project, I've placed copies on the server in the Current Project folder. If you need something urgent, please contact Stephanie.
Related: Guide to Company Culture
Telling recipients exactly when you'll be away so they know when to expect a response or contact someone else.
I am away on vacation April 5–15 and plan to disconnect from email during that time. If your message can wait, I will respond as soon as I return. For urgent matters, please contact HR Coordinator Carl Weedin at email@example.com or 946-555-6319.
Human Resources Manager
If you are going to a business conference, create an out of office message that lets other attendees know you are available for networking opportunities. This is also a chance to show people you are dedicated to your professional development.
Thanks for your message. I am out of the office attending the annual Association of Engineering Professionals conference in Denver, Colorado. I'll be checking email periodically, but if you need immediate assistance, please contact my assistant, Loren Anders, at Loren@email.com or 934-555-1940.
If you're in Denver this week, too, I'd love to connect! Stop by booth 618, or contact me on my cell at 934-555-1059.
Professionals expected to check email and communicate constantly might need to set up OOO messages every time they are gone from the office for a couple of hours. This type of message is useful if you need to go to an appointment but will be returning later in the day or if you need to travel to a meeting.
Thanks for your message. I will be away from my desk at an appointment from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, March 7. I'll have limited email access, so if you need something urgent, please contact Stacey Moden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 938-555-2819. If your email can wait, I will respond as soon as I'm back in the office.
Out of reach
Let contacts know if you don't have access to your email, and provide them with other ways to get help or information.
I am out of the office with no email access and will not be able to respond to your message until I return on Sept. 20. Please reach out to Sonny Jons at email@example.com or 823-555-3827, and he'll take care of anything you need until then.
Out of office but checking emails
Some professionals do monitor and even respond to emails when they are out of the office. If you plan to check email periodically, let senders know they can expect a response but that it might be delayed.
Thank you for your message. I am away from the office leading a workshop Dec. 1–4. I will be checking email throughout the day and will try to respond to messages promptly (please flag urgent messages as high importance). However, if you need immediate assistance, please contact Johnny Woo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 465-555-1098.
Thank you for your patience,
Company practices around major holidays vary. While your contacts might not expect you to be in the office on a holiday, let them know how accessible you will be in the days before and after.
Our offices will be closed for the week of Dec. 21 to 25. I will respond to your message when I'm back at my desk Monday, Dec. 28. If you have an emergency, however, you can reach me on my cell at 829-555-1958.
Maternity or paternity leave
Maternity leave can range from less than 10 weeks to six months or more depending on where you live and work. You need to direct people to the employee who takes over your responsibilities.
I will be away on maternity leave from Feb. 24 to May 18. Our talented lead graphic designer, Patrick Heiner, will be managing my accounts during this time. You can reach him at email@example.com or 958-555-8265.
If you are undergoing a procedure or experiencing an illness that requires a long treatment or recovery, you might want to add this detail to your out-of-the-office message so your contacts respect your privacy and time while you heal.
Thank you for your message. I am out of the office on medical leave from March 2 to 27. I will be checking email periodically, but please contact Amy Dunn (firstname.lastname@example.org, 395-555-9981) for all your consulting needs during this time.
Thank you for your understanding,
Marketing and sales professionals might want to promote their content, website, blog or services even while they are away. They might include links to products or resources in their OOO messages.
Thank you for your message. I am out of the office until July 20 and will respond to your email when I return. In the meantime, however, please enjoy a free excerpt from our new e-book "10 Steps to Marketing Success." If like what you're reading, you can purchase and download a complete copy at 10stepstosuccess.com. For urgent matters, please contact our marketing assistant, David Tapper, at email@example.com or 420-555-2933.
Digital Brand Manager
Let your out of the office message generate business leads while you are away. Prompt the sender to sign up for a newsletter, webinar, online course or other business development tool your company uses.
Thank you for your email. I am out of the office with limited email access until June 2. If you need assistance before I return, please contact Marley Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org or 932-555-6756.
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Digital Health Editor
Use your OOO message to grow your personal or company social media audiences by asking contacts to follow you on one or more accounts.
Thanks for reaching out! I'm away from the office and will respond to emails when I return on Nov. 15. To stay up to date with all the exciting developments at Red Letter while I'm gone, follow us on all the major social media platforms. For immediate assistance, you can contact my colleague, Jen Price, at email@example.com.
Have a great day,
People who manage many projects or expect to receive a lot of emails while they are gone might want to include a variety of colleagues for senders to contact.
I will be on vacation from Feb. 14–Feb. 21 with little to no email access. If you need assistance with your taxes while I'm away, please contact my associate, Jean White, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-555-0193. For auditing matters, please contact our senior auditor, Max Kim, at email@example.com. If you need copies of financial documents, please call my assistant, Corey Lopez, at 881-555-3012.
Otherwise, I will respond to your message promptly when I return.
Stuart Capp, CPA