How To Write an Out-Of-Office Message (With 15 Examples)
Out-of-office messages are automatic email replies that are sent to colleagues, customers and clients when you are away from work. They let others know you are unavailable and when they can expect a response to their email. Depending on why you are out of the office, you might need to include certain details in your message.
In this article, we explain what out-of-office email messages are and why they're important, and we offer some examples of out-of-office messages you can use as a guide.
What is an out-of-office message?
An out-of-office message, also called an OOO message or an autoresponder email message, is used when you won’t be able to respond or read emails for a specified 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.
When do you use an out-of-office message?
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 that you're planning on:
Going on vacation
Going to a conference, workshop or professional meeting
Taking maternity or sick leave or a sabbatical
Taking a personal day
Going to a doctor’s appointment
What to include in an out-of-office email message
Out-of-office messages might include such key information as:
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 an out-of-office message
Out-of-office messages should remain professional and realistic. You should consider avoiding the following:
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.
Committing 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 get your colleague's permission before including their information.
15 Out-of-office message examples
Here are some OOO messages you can consider based on type:
Out of reach
Out of office but checking emails
Maternity or paternity leave
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, Gabriela Martinez, at email@example.com or 303-555-1059, ext. 4. Otherwise, I will respond to your email when I return.
Peyton KimAdvertising Executive
Consider a friendly or even funny out-of-office message if this is something that aligns with your company culture.
I’m currently OOO right now as I’m swimming and surfing in sunny California. One thing I’m not doing, however, is reading or responding to emails. If you need immediate assistance, please contact Jerry Fielding at [email address]. Otherwise, I’ll respond to your email when I’m back in New York on April 15.
Have a great day!
Marla KovatchSocial 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 from 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 946-555-6319.
Brianne LeeHuman 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, Darren Liente, at email@example.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.
Best, Imani Jackson
6. Short term
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.
Mei WangSales Representative
7. 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 Muhammad Habib at email@example.com or 823-555-3827, and he'll take care of anything you need until then.
Ashlee WernerCustomer Service
8. Out of office but checking emails
Some professionals 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.
10. 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.
Alex BackerArt Director
11. Medical leave
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 you 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.
Gabby LopezDigital Brand Manager
13. Lead generation
Let your OOO 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.
Did you know that we host a monthly webinar on timely health topics? Every second Tuesday of the month, our esteemed experts answer questions from a live online audience. To submit your question or sign up for our upcoming webinar on preventive care, click here.
Esther LeoneDigital Health Editor
14. Social media
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,
15. Contact sharing
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. 14–21 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 Hernandez, at 881-555-3012.
Otherwise, I will respond to your message promptly when I return.
Stuart Capp, CPA
Frequently asked questions
How do I write a good out-of-the-office message?
Good out-of-the-office messages tend to have some common characteristics. Consider these tips when you write your message:
Explain why you're out of the office.
Specify how long you plan to be away.
State when you may be able to reply.
Keep the message short.
Consider using a formal tone.
Provide alternative contact information, if desired.
How do I set an out-of-the-office message in Gmail or Outlook?
Gmail and Outlook, the most widely used email service providers today, involve significantly different procedures for setting out-of-the-office messages.
For Gmail, follow these steps:
Click on the gear symbol near the top right-hand corner of the interface. In the sidebar that opens, select "See all settings."
Scroll to the bottom of the Settings screen to locate the "Vacation responder" section. Select the "Vacation responder on" button.
Remaining in the "Vacation responder" section, specify the dates you plan to be out of the office and write your subject heading and message. If you want to limit the message viewability to people you know, select "Only send a response to people in my Contacts" below the message field.
Click "Save Changes."
For the latest version of Outlook, the process is as follows:
Click "File" on the ribbon, located in the top left-hand corner of the interface. On the subsequent screen, select "Automatic Replies (Out of Office)."
On the Automatic Replies screen, select the "Send automatic replies" button. Optionally, you can also set your date range below the button.
In the lower half of the Automatic Replies screen, make sure you've selected the "Inside My Organization" tab. Then write the message you want to display.
How do I set an out-of-the-office message in Slack or Teams?
Slack and Teams are communication and collaboration platforms that both provide out-of-the-office message functionality.
To set a message in Slack:
Click on your profile photo near the upper right-hand corner of the interface. In the drop-down menu, select "Update your status."
In the "What's your status?" field, write your message.
Under "Remove status after ...," select your date of return.
To set a message in Teams:
Click on your profile photo near the upper right-hand corner of the interface. In the drop-down menu, select "Set status message."
Write your message in the field that reads, "Type your status message here."
In the drop-down menu below the message field, select your date of return.
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