How to Write an Effective Out-of-Office Message

Published 28. 4. 2021

It is necessary to write an out-of-office message before going on vacation. If you want to relax during your vacation and enjoy a peaceful return, you should write an automatic message effectively. So what should an out-of-office message look like to help you and those who are looking for you?


What an out-of-office message should contain

Each out-of-office email should contain the following information, allowing the sender to solve the problem even during your absence. So, what to include in your out-of-office message?


  • Date of your time off/return — The date in the message is really vital. It is the only way for the sender to know that the message is up to date and to find out when he can contact you again.
  • Contact a representative — If the sender's issue can not wait until your return from vacation, contacting your colleague will usually save the situation. So don't forget to state the name, email and, if possible, the phone number of the colleague who represents you.


The basic automatic reply may then look like this:

Thank you for your email!

I am out of the office from April 28 until April 30 and will return on May 3. I will reply to your email as soon as possible upon returning to the office. In urgent cases, please contact my colleague (name) at (email).


What else can an out-of-office message contain

In addition to the necessary information, the automatic reply may contain a number of other details. It is up to you to decide what is really important and desirable for your message.


  • Phone number for urgent cases — If it is possible to contact you by phone in urgent cases, you can include your telephone number in the automatic reply. However, the caller will likely assess the urgency of the situation differently than you would.
  • Sign for urgent cases – Just as you can provide a phone number for urgent cases, you can instruct the sender to write [URGENT] in the subject of the email. This way you can occasionally check urgent matters during your holiday and respond to them as needed.
  • Sales/marketing message – Out-of-office emails should not be too long. It is not exactly a typical advertising space. However, if you are going to a trade fair for example, where you could meet suppliers and customers, it is convenient to mention this in your auto-reply. It can also be beneficial to refer customers to a specific page of your website if you know they will be looking for information about a specific product or service during your absence.
  • Joke – We really don't recommend joking in auto-replies. There is a great risk that the sender will not understand your joke in the moment. However, if you are really sure that your corporate culture is sufficiently relaxed and your email will certainly not offend anyone even in urgent cases, you can try to do so despite our warning.


vacation relaxation

Of all the humorous out-of-office emails on the internet we found this graph tracking the level of stress during the holidays the funniest, and at the same time the most relatable.


How to set up an automatic out-of-office message

Do you have your out-of-office message written? Great! Now it is time to set it up. If you do not know how to do it, use our detailed instructions how to set up your automatic out-of-office replies in Outlook.

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