How to Write an Effective Out-of-office Reply

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If you are still doubtful about which type of out-of-office reply is ideal for you, keep these dos and don’ts in consideration whilst you draft your message. Inform individuals of the lengthy response times. Avoid sending excessive information to your recipients, as well as jokes and “funny” emails.

Before packing your bags and switching your work phone to airplane mode, cross off the last thing on your to-do list which is letting your fellow workers, business partners, and clients know about your imminent absence. And it must be done professionally.

Vacations, unexpected absentees, and other factors can disrupt a company’s workflow unless employees have their (OOO) out-of-office responses set up. This auto-replying system began as a Microsoft oddity in the late 1980s with the company’s Xenix email system, before spreading all over the world in the following decades.

An out-of-office message is an automated response memo sent by your email account notifying fellow correspondents that you are currently unreachable or away from your workstation during scheduled business hours. Due to colleagues’ and clients’ demand for quick solutions to their problems, communicating your out-of-office reply is critical in letting your correspondents know why your response will be delayed and how they can acquire further guidance and assistance while you are away.

On the surface, writing your out-of-office message seems like a fairly simple task. But when you get to it, you might find yourself at a loss for words. Here is how to choose the right words and hit the nail on its head. 

How to Structure an Out-of-office reply

Putting yourself in your addressee’s shoes is the key to crafting an email that sounds right. An out-of-office (OOO) message doesn’t have to have long paragraphs if it conveys the essential information properly. The three components to an effective out-of-office message are as follows:

  • A brief reason for the unavailability: Colleagues may still try to contact you if they assume you will be checking in. If they know you’re taking personal or vacation time, they will be less inclined to try to contact you. Other details are not necessary as such.
  • Be specific: Indicate the exact period of leave dates for when you will be out of reach and also the dates of return if possible.
  • Alternative contact: Provide the name and contact details for the replacement who can assist in case of urgency. It is always helpful to include job titles for people who are not familiar with the organization. This allows the receiver the option of waiting for your feedback or proceeding without it.

How NOT to Write an OOO Message

Because these are still work mails, out-of-office responses should be professional. The following should be avoided:-

  1. Too much information – Automated replies are supposed to be short and to the point. Refrain from adding any excessive unnecessary details.
  2. Committing a co-worker’s immediate aid – Avoid putting your colleagues under pressure by redirecting them as immediate assistance. Make sure you run it by their desk beforehand. Set a realistic expectation for the time frame so they can organize their schedule and not be disappointed.
  3. Tone of the message – Even if you talk casually with your correspondents, keep in mind that people from outside your workplace might be in touch thus implementing a formal tone is vital. Make sure your reply is suitable for senior executives, citizens, or elderly customers.
  4. Typos – Your ooo message can be delivered to everyone, from your boss to a top-tier client. Polish your template by proofreading it thoroughly to avoid embarrassment.

Is an out-of-office email response enough?

We will get into some templates for out of office messages here shortly, but one quick note beforehand:
It is recommended you have another backup in place such as delegating the responsibility of managing the inbox to another team member. This is important to avoid letting an important message sit too long without going unanswered.

Customizing Your Email Message

You can also draft messages to different groups using some email providers. Gmail, for example, allows you to email to people you have selected in your various address book groupings as well as those you don’t have in your address book. This allows you to be more adaptable and personalize your message.

Here Are Some Examples of OOO Replies

Vacations – A short and professional OOO reply 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 the 25th of May and will have limited internet access while I am away. If you need immediate assistance, please contact our advertising representative, Wayne Carter, at or 333-353-1009, ext. 4. Otherwise, I will respond to your email when I return.


Aubrey Graham
Advertising Executive

Promotions – Sales and marketing professionals might want to promote their content, website, blog, or services even while they are away thus including links to products or their resources in there.


Thank you for your message. I am out of the office until July the 20th 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.” For urgent matters, please contact our marketing assistant, Charles Garcia, at or 420-555-2931.


Bashar Jackson
Digital Brand Manager”

Medical Leaves – If you are undergoing a procedure or experiencing an illness that requires a bedrest recovery or a long treatment, you might want to add this detail to your out-of-office reply 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 Nori Dunn (, 395-535-9521) for all your consulting needs during this time.

Thank you for your understanding,

Jesse White”


All in all, if you keep these points in consideration when creating an out-of-office email response, no difficulties shall arise in delivering out appropriate responses.

Gary Rhode
Gary Rhode


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