Write the perfect Out of Office reply in English

You know how to write an Out of Office auto reply in your mother-tongue language, don’t you?

However, are you sure that your out of office auto responder message is perfect in English? You do not want your English clients and customers to be put off by including some vocabulary or grammar mistakes in this essential piece of written business English correspondence.

If you work for a very serious corporation, then you will probably have stipulations to have a specific message that is written in very formal business English.

If you work for a smaller company then you may possibly be free to create your own out of office message, so here are a few tips and examples of different styles of email message for when you away from work.


The traditional out of office auto-responder always contained the following information…

  • How long the person that you have emailed will be away for, including dates
  • When the person you contacted will return and reply to your email
  • If the person will sometimes look at their emails while they are out of the office
  • An alternative contact person’s details, if appropriate

Here are some templates that you can use to set up a perfect English reply….

Example 1: Formal style

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, I am currently out of the office and will not return until (END DATE).

If you require immediate assistance in my absence, please contact (COLLEAGUE’S NAME) on (PHONE NO#) or (EMAIL ADDRESS), who will be able to deal with your enquiry.

Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible on my return.

Best regards,

Example 2: Direct to the point (including stating that you are not answering emails)

I will be out of the office from (START DATE) to (END DATE) with no access to my emails.

If your message is urgent, please contact (COLLEAGUE’S NAME) on (PHONE NO#) or (EMAIL ADDRESS).

Example 3: Suitable for Sales or Customer Service/Help departments

Thank you for your message. I am currently out of the office and will not return until (DATE). 

Your business is important to us and I will respond to you immediately when I return to work.

[Download a PDF version]


This is an auto response that I received from a friend of mine who currently works in a big important company in Germany, which contains the wording stipulated by top management. There are 2 sentences (2nd and 3rd) which sound slightly unnatural (to a native English speaker) as a result of interference from German

Thank you very much for your email. Currently, I can not answer your message promptly. I will come back to you after my return on the (DATE).

As your email will not be forwarded, please contact in the meantime my colleague, (NAME), (PHONE NO#), (EMAIL)

Best regards,


These are current genuine replies that I received from my friends who work in various companies in the UK. They are quite direct and very short, aren’t they?

I think that this is because Out of Office replies have been around for a long time now and everybody knows the message that they contain. So, if you have a very short sentence, then you are not wasting everyone’s valuable business time.

Example 1

I am out of the office until (DATE) and will get back to you as soon as possible.

Does anything more really need to be said?

Example 2

I am now out of the office returning (DATE)

For any enquiries please call (OFFICE TELEPHONE NUMBER)

This is possibly better than the first one, as there is help with an alternative contact if the matter is truly urgent

Example 3

Thank you for your email. I will be back at my desk on (DATE).

This person is not messing around. This message leaves it unsaid that your email will NOT be answered, so if you really need an answer then use your own initiative to find someone else to speak to. I like this idea because if a regular client, customer or colleague gets passed on to another person in your company, can you really guarantee that they will get the same level of service/intelligence/commitment/courtesy/knowledge/speed that you would provide? There is no guarantee, is there? So, maybe it’s better for the person to wait until you return.

Example 4

I am out of the office but picking up emails sporadically.


This message offers some hope that your email will be dealt with if it is considered important enough to merit a reply. This could lead to problems though. The sender might believe their email to be crucial. The responder might think it’s not worth a reply until they return. Confusion and frustration may ensue.

[Download a PDF version]


If you use Outlook in your office, there are instructions here and also support here from Microsoft that show how to create an out of office reply for POP or IMAP accounts.

If you use Gmail, then watch the video…

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With so many English language schools out there, it can be difficult to decide which one to choose. Here are 10 fantastic reasons to study English in London at SGI. Of course we can think of lots of reasons why people should choose us, but here are just a few of them…​


1. How to write a letter of complaint – Business English
2. How to write a reply to a customer complaint & how NOT to! VIDEO
3. Steve Jobs Presentation Skills secrets (VIDEO) – our most popular Business English video ever!

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