Master the Out-of-Office Reply


—Bite-sized advice for better business writing—

November 26, 2019 

Master the
Out-of-Office Reply

“A one day holiday can at times be better than a one week vacation if you totally unplug for that one day!”

— Catherine Pulsifer

The holiday season is officially upon us, which, in the business world, marks the start of “out-of-office reply” season.

Do you partake in this tradition? You should.

Today we’ll introduce some effective templates for out-of-office messages and demonstrate some fun and productive ways to break the mold.

Why use an out-of-office reply? 

Okay, so you’re about to be away from your work email for an extended time. How can you acknowledge clients and stakeholders who email you during your absence? That’s where your email's automatic out-of-office feature comes in handy.

If you don’t know how to access this feature, simply search online for “out-of-office + [your email service]” and follow the instructions. Eventually you'll be asked to create an automated reply message that anyone who emails you will receive.

Consider using one of these standard templates.

Template 1: Formal


Thank you for your message. I am currently out of the office with limited access to email until [end date]. I look forward to replying to your message soon after I return. If your message requires immediate attention, please contact my colleague [name] at [colleague’s email address] or [phone number].

[Your Name]

Template 2: Casual

Hi there, 

Thanks for checking in! I’m away from the office through [end date] and will have limited access to my email. I will promptly respond to your message when I return. If your message is urgent, please contact [colleague’s name] at [colleague’s email address].  

[Your Name]

Either of these replies will get the job done, but if you are feeling creative, consider adding some personality or business value to your reply. Try these strategies.

Sprinkle in Humor

Hey there,

Sorry I missed you. I’m out of the office with the fam until Nov. 28. If you need a quick answer, you can either find me flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet (I’m the guy in the aisle wrangling two toddlers, who are definitely not screaming) or simply contact my colleague Batoul Modi at


(As always, use humor at your own discretion. Think carefully about your business interests and reader sensibilities to avoid potential offenses.)

Add Secondary Value


Thanks for your message. Unfortunately, I’m out of the office from March 8 to March 14 with limited access to email. If your response can wait, I’ll reply to your email when I return. If you need a quick response, please contact my colleague Kyra Miller at, and she will return your message.

Unlike me, however, our weekly newsletter never takes a vacation. Have you heard about it? Be in the know about the latest fashion trends and faux pas. Subscribe to weekly tips from our talented designers, delivered to your inbox for free!

Wishing you well,

Make a Prediction + Add Value


Thanks for checking in! I’m on vacation through January 3 and will have limited access to my email. I will return your message soon after I return. If your message is urgent, please contact Miles Best at  

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Try It Out!

Create a new out-of-office message using one of the templates from above. If you already have a template you like, experiment with adding some business value or personality to your standard message. 


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