4 tips for writing an out-of-office message in English


An out-of-office auto-reply serves to inform people that you aren’t available to respond to their emails. These are mainly used during the holidays.

If you work in an international setting, you should eventually prepare an out-of-office message in English to notify people of your absence and tell the recipient who to contact in case they need an immediate response.

In this article, we’re going to teach you tips and useful phrases in English you need to craft an excellent out-of-office message along with plenty of examples.

 

 


Tip 1: Choose the tone of your message

 

The tone of your out-of-office auto-reply may vary depending on the intended recipient of your email. 

If you want your message to be formal, avoid using contracted forms such as I’m and I’ll as well as informal or casual language. It’s also a good idea to start your message with an expression of thanks like: 

Thank you for your message.


If your audience isn’t from your work environment, you could take a risk with something more fun and personalised:

Oops, too late! I’m off on holiday right now until the 16th, probably sipping on a margarita while you read this. I’ll reply when I’m back, but if it’s super urgent, contact abc@def.com.


It wouldn’t be right for this message to go to your boss or a client. If you’re not sure who is going to receive your message, we suggest following a more formal template.

 


Tip 2: Get straight to the point

 

Don’t beat around the bush! This is an expression that means you should get to the point. That is, you should make your message direct and brief. This will let the recipient quickly know that you’re not available and who they can contact instead. You can start with a simple greeting and then proceed to the message like in the following examples:

Hi, I’m out of the office. Thank you for getting in touch. We’ll get back to you within 8 business hours. 

Hello, this is Michael Smith from ABA English. Sorry I missed you. If you have a question about our products, please contact sales@company.com. I will follow up once at home. Kind regards.


Tip 3: Give your availability and your return date

 

The recipient needs to know your availability and when you’ll be back.

You can use the following phrases for this:

I’m out of the office until Monday, 14 August.

Thanks for your email. I’ll be out of the office from 2 to 7 May.

 

You can clarify that there’s a possibility that you’ll see the email before the return date, but you can’t guarantee it.

Hi there. I’m out of the office until Monday, 14 August, with limited access to email.

 

To use a more casual tone, you could write:

Hey there! I’m on holiday right now. I’ll try to reply to your message ASAP. Talk to you later!

 


Tip 4: Mention your backup

 

If their message is urgent or they’d like to contact someone else instead, you can let them know what to do. 

If you require immediate assistance, please email colleague@colleague.com in my absence. Thanks. 

Should the matter be important, please contact Jim Ross (jross@fakecompany.com) in my absence. Kind regards.

If you require immediate assistance, please email colleague@colleague.com in my absence. Thanks.

 

[Tweet: “Are you going on holiday? Learn the best tips for writing your next out-of-office auto-reply email in English.”]

 


Bonus: Useful phrases 

 

The following phrases will be very useful when you’re preparing your out-of-office message template.

To say you will be absent

  • I will be out of the office.
  • I am not in the office.
  • I am (currently) out of the office.
  • I will be away from X to Y.

To redirect the message

  • Should the matter be important…
  • If you require immediate assistance…
  • For urgent queries…
  • If you have an immediate need…
  • …please email X.
  • …please contact X.
  • …please write to/call X.

 


 

With these tips, you’ll be able to write your next auto-reply message, for holidays or other reasons.

Remember that it’s important to choose the tone of your message based on the final recipient.

As for the subject matter, the simpler, the better: “out of the office”.

Finally, it’s crucial to indicate the date you’ll return and the contact person who will cover for you during your absence.

 

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