The perfect out of office message: examples and helpful tips

If you’re going on holiday or are ill and either can’t or don’t want to be reached by email, then an automatic answer in the form of an out of office reply is useful so that your uninformed contacts aren’t kept waiting. However, it is sometimes confusing to know what you should include in your out of office message. We give you helpful tips on the structure and content of your reply as well as provide you with various out of office message examples.

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What should you include in an out of office message?

What you include in your out of office message depends on the context. While some companies expect a formal approach, others don’t mind if you liven up the text and make it more personal.

Whether formal or personal, your out of office reply should always be short and sweet and only convey the most important information:

  • Saying that you’ll be unreachable
  • Letting others know when they can expect an answer
  • The reason for your absence (optional)
  • Email address of a colleague they can contact

Below you will find eight samples of out of office messages that contain all the important information and are also suitable for different target groups.

Example of out of office message for holiday

Hello,

Thank you very much for your email! I am currently on holiday and will be available again from [date].

Your email will not be forwarded for confidentiality reasons. In urgent cases, please contact my colleague [colleague name] at [colleague email address].

Best wishes,

[your name]

Example of out of office message to clients regarding stand-in

Hello,

Thank you for your message. I am currently out of office and don’t have access to my email. Feel free to contact me when I return on [date].

If it’s urgent, please contact my colleague [colleague name]. You can reach them by email [colleague email address] or by telephone [telephone number], and they will be glad to assist you.

Thank you for your understanding.

Regards,

[your name]

Example of out of office message when ill

Hello,

if you are reading this, I am currently not in the office due to illness. Don’t worry, I should be back on [date]! During this time, my colleague [colleague name] (colleague email address) is kindly standing in for me. Please contact them in urgent cases.

Stay healthy!

Until then,

[your name]

Example of out of office message during Christmas

Hello,

Thank you for your message! I will be away over the Christmas holidays and will return on [date]. Unfortunately, I will not be able to access my emails during this time.

In urgent cases, you are welcome to contact my colleague [colleague name] (colleague email address). Your email will not be forwarded. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

Best wishes,

[your name]

In addition to an out of office reply, it is also a nice touch to wish your clients a Merry Christmas. However, the content and mood must be right. In this article, we show you how to write Christmas greetings to customers.

Example of out of office message for parental leave

Hello,

I am currently on parental leave and should return to the office on [date]. In the meantime, you are welcome to contact my colleague [colleague name] (colleague email address). Your email will not be forwarded.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

See you soon!

[your name]

Tip

Our article on how to write an out of office message for parental leave contains additional tips and examples to inspire you.

Example of out of office message after resignation

Hello,

Thank you for your email. As of [date], I am no longer working at [company name] and for this reason, I am unfortunately unable to reply to this email. Please direct your inquiry and any future ones to my former colleague [colleague name] (colleague email address), who would be happy to assist you with any matter.

Best wishes,

[your name]

Tip

Setting up an out of office message if you’ve resigned or your employment has been terminated is very important. If your departure is not properly communicated to your customers, it can cause a lot of communication problems and frustration. The article mentioned above provides you with additional tips and examples.

You have the option to use various templates and examples when writing an out of office reply, but how do you formulate the perfect message yourself?

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How to create an out of office message step by step

Title

In the title, it’s customary to simply write ‘Out of Office Reply’. This way, everyone knows that you’re not available immediately after they receive the automated response.

Greeting

Start your out of office message with a greeting. You can also thank them for the incoming message. A combination of these is also possible.

Examples:

  • Hi!
  • Thank you for your message!
  • Hello, and thanks for your email!

Reachability

In the second line of the text, you should write the most important information, which is when you can be reached again as well as the reason for your absence if you want to disclose it. If you’re going to be absent for an indefinite amount of time, then just naming the reason is enough. Details on when you’ll be reachable again leaves a better impression than stating the time of your absence.

Examples:

  • I am currently out of the office on holiday. I will reply to your message when I return on Monday, DD/MM/YY, hh:mm.
  • I will be back in the office on Monday, DD/MM/YY, hh:mm.

Forwarding

If your emails aren’t going to be forwarded or can’t be viewed by a colleague, it is sometimes important to share this information. Depending on your clients, it may be useful to give a reason or express regret.

Examples:

  • Your message will not be forwarded automatically.
  • For reasons of confidentiality, your message will not be forwarded.
  • Please understand that your message cannot be forwarded.

Referral

If a colleague is standing in for you, you can include their email address and/or telephone number. A request to only use this option in urgent cases can help filter out smaller matters.

Examples:

  • You are welcome to contact my colleague [colleague name] with any requests you may have: [colleague email address].
  • In urgent cases, you can contact my colleague [colleague name]: [colleague email address].
  • For emergencies, please call the following number: [telephone number].

Ending

You can use a simple ending to finish your message. In an out of office reply, it’s also quite common to omit them entirely.

Examples:

  • Thanks, [your name]
  • Cheers/Best/Regards, [your name]

Overview of components with examples

Text element Examples
Greeting Hi!
Thanks for your message!
Hello, and thank you for your email!
Reachability I am currently out of the office on holiday. I will reply to your message when I return on Monday, DD/MM/YY, hh:mm.
I will be back in the office on Monday, DD/MM/YY, hh:mm.
Forwarding Your message will not be forwarded automatically.
For reasons of confidentiality, your message will not be forwarded.
Please understand that your message cannot be forwarded.
Referral You are welcome to contact my colleague [colleague name] with any requests you may have: [colleague email address]
In urgent cases, you can contact my colleague [colleague name]: [colleague email address].
For emergencies, please call the following number: [telephone number]
Ending Thanks,
[your name]

Cheers/best/regards,
[your name]
Tip

Don’t forget to include your email signature in your out of office reply.

Customise your out of office message

Your out of office message doesn’t have to be as formal as in the above examples. In many industries, you can converse with customers in a more relaxed and cordial manner. This is especially true among colleagues if email communication is limited internally within the company so only your coworkers would read the message anyway. Even with many external business partners, a ‘quick’ reply is still common. We show you here how you can personalise your out of office reply and which parts you can omit.

What to include in a personal out of office message

When it comes to style, you can decide for yourself what suits your company. Keep in mind that your supervisors may receive the same out of office message as your colleagues that you have more of a relaxed relationship with. Consider these tips with caution.

Stylistic element Examples
Casual formulations I’m on holiday!!
Feel free to contact me when I’m back on [date].
I’ll be back on [date] - recharged and ready to go!!
Make the most of a special occasion Happy New Year!
We’re heading off for the Christmas break. Happy holidays to you and yours!
Humour among colleagues As long as I don’t get eaten in the jungle, you can reach me again on [date].
Here’s to hoping I don’t fall into a ravine on my hike!
In urgent cases, please contact the potted plant on my desk.

What not to include in a personal out of office message

If your out of office message is to be kept quite formal, certain stylistic devices can overshoot the mark. We show you which mistakes you should definitely avoid making.

Stylistic element Examples
Relief/gloating I’m finally on my hard-earned holiday!!
I’m running away from my desk into the wilderness.
I’m getting out of here! Hold down the fort for me!
‘Who cares’ attitude by keeping the message too short I’m on holiday and won’t be reading any more emails until [date].
I’m out of the office until [date]. Please don’t send me any emails.
I’m not there! I’ll be back on [date].
Irrelevant additions (A picture of a sunbathing polar bear)
(Quote) “What by a straight path cannot be reached by crooked ways is never won”. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(Emoticons) Keep your chin up! ;) See you, Max! :D

The risk associated with out of office replies

Setting up an out of office message is part of business email communication etiquette and is mandatory for many companies. Nevertheless, you should think carefully about what information you disclose in your out of office reply.

This is because it is becoming increasingly common for criminals and spammers to take advantage of the information it contains. For example, disclosing information on periods of absence can let criminals know when it’s a good time to break into houses or offices. The automatic out of office message also has a major advantage for spammers. By sending messages to thousands of randomly generated email address variations, the automatic reply can be used to filter out which addresses actually exist.

This article on what your out of office message tells attackers explains more on the topic and provides tips on preventing the misuse of out of office replies.

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