How to write an "out-of-office" email in English

Eine Abwesenheits-E-Mail ist Ihre Visitenkarte. Wenn Sie die folgenden Tipps, die ich in Secretary Today - Professionelles Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen gefunden habe, befolgen, hinterlassen Sie bei Ihren Kunden und Geschäftspartnern allein durch Ihre englische Abwesenheits-E-Mail garantiert einen professionellen Eindruck.

This is how to write a perfect out-of-office email in English

What happens to your incoming emails when you are away for a few days or a few weeks? You probably use the automatic "out-of-office" function in outlook or whatever email system you use. This sends automatic replies to any emails you receive in your absence, telling people how long you will be away for and what will be happening to their email. Often, people will be upset that they can´t communicate with you directly - all the more reason to make sure your out-of-office email is friendly, professional and absolutely clear.

So your out-of-office email should include

  • a clear subject line
  • a friendly greeting
  • an apology for your absence
  • the date you will be back in the office
  • information about what will happen with the email in the meantime
  • the contact detail of whoever is standing in for you
  • a friendly closing salutation
  • your email signature

The subject line in your out-of-office email in English

Think carefully about the suject line in your out-of-office email. This is the first thing the recipients will read. Obviously, the subject line cannot be personal, because everyone who sends you an email will receive it, but it should be friendly and not just "AutoReply", which is included in your email programme.

  • I am on holiday/vacation until 15 September.
  • I will be back in the office on September 15.
  • Mary Jane is standing in for me during my parental leave.

A friendly greeting in your out-of-office email in English

This is directed at everyone who sends you an email so it has to be general. But this does not mean it has to be impersonal.

  • Hello and thank you for your email.
  • Hello and thank you very much for your message.

An apology for your absence in your out-of-office email

For whatever reason you are away, it is polite to apologise. In some cases - parental leave, a lengthy period working in another branch - you should always say in your out-of-office email why you are away. In other cases, there is no need to give the reason for your absence, especially if it was stated in the subject line.

  • I am on parental leave.
  • I am working in our Paris office until the end of the year.

Don´t forget the date you will be back in the office in your out-of-office email

No-one wants to know how long your annual vacation lasts. So restrict the information in your out-of-office email in English to the date you will be back.

  • I will be back in the office on Wednesday, October 24.
  • I am out of the office until, Montag, September 24.

Give information about what will happen to the email and contact details

The email may be automatically forwarded to a co-worker, or you may want to give the contact details of whoever is standing in for you.

  • Your email will not be forwarded, but you are welcome to contact Bettina Mertens (, who is covering for me.
  • Your email will be forwarded to Sandra Schwertfeger who is standing in for me.

Close your out-of-office email with "Kind regards" or "Best regards". Like the opening salutation, this has to be general but friendly. And dont´t forget your normal signature.