What does OOO mean in an email?

What does OOO mean in an email?

Put simply, it stands for “out of office”.

In this article, we look at when and how to use OOO messages and explore what to include in them and how to craft these messages based on the recipient.

What does OOO stand for?

If you’re not familiar with the abbreviation “OOO”, you could be confused upon seeing it for the first time.

For example, one Twitter user confessed that they initially thought it stood for the spooky noise a cartoon ghost makes! 

But in the context of business emails, the truth is much more straightforward.

“OOO” is an abbreviation for out of office.

OOO takes its place alongside other common email acronyms in the email messages lexicon.

These can cause some head-scratching at first, but they’re easy enough to place once you know them.

FYI (for your information), there’s generally NRN (no reply necessary) to an OOO message.

Although, if you need a response by EOD (end of day), this can be frustrating, particularly if you’re WFH (working from home).

But don’t worry — your contact is sure to get back to you ASAP (as soon as possible). Provided, that is, that your original message was SFW (safe for work).

If you’re aiming to master how to write a winning sales email, you should know what all of these acronyms mean (although it’s always best to use them sparingly in your messages).

What are some synonyms for OOO?

Any word or phrase denoting absence from the workspace counts as a synonym for the out of office acronym.

In today’s business environment, of course, not everyone works in an office, so the OOO meaning shouldn’t be taken too literally.

The basic concept is that it serves as an auto-reply when you’re not planning to access your emails for a prolonged period of time.

Exactly how you phrase your OOO message is up to you.

Just as we all have individual styles when text messaging or writing social media posts on LinkedIn or Instagram, so it goes with out-of-office notifications.

If you think putting OOO in the subject line is too ambiguous, try using whichever synonym you think is most relevant:

  • On vacation
  • Away from work
  • Off duty
  • On sabbatical
  • On annual leave
  • Off

As a side note, you might sometimes see the abbreviation OOF used in place of OOO.

It’s not as common, but it means the same thing. It stands for “out of facility” and was originally a term used internally by Microsoft employees. 

What to include in an OOO message

Email remains the bedrock of business communication, and there’s a reason why.

We wouldn’t have seen such massive email marketing growth or email being everywhere in business messaging if it weren’t an excellent platform for the concise transmission of information. 

An OOO message should be short and snappy but also informative

It’s vital to get across any crucial information without running on for too long. If you’d like to know how to pull off that trick, here are a few tips on what to include.

Begin with a standard professional greeting, just as you would with any other business email.

Then, state that you’re OOO and say when you’ll be back. It’s important to beas precise as possible.

Your colleagues or clients might want to send a follow-up once they know you’re available again. So no “I’ll be back in a few days” vagueness.

The next thing to do is be clear about when you plan to respond.

Again, be specific. “When I return on Wednesday 30th July” is more helpful than “I’ll get back to you by EOM (end of month)”.

Finally, leave instructions in case the emailer really can’t wait for your return to get a response.

Include contact details for colleagues who can handle their queries while you’re away in case of an urgent issue.

When to use OOO messages

Using OOO messages is a professional courtesy.

If you’re going on vacation for a week, you could simply switch off your phone and not respond until you get back.

Some of your less demanding clients might not even notice you’ve gone.

Generally speaking, though, if you’re not going to be reachable for more than a day or so, it’s best to set an out-of-office message.

Some people like to set up an OOO message to auto-respond even if they’re only going to be away for a short amount of time.

However, think twice before doing this.

If you send an out-of-office message every time you’re in a two-hour meeting, that can be counterproductive.

You may be cluttering up your regular contacts’ inboxes and inadvertently annoying important clients.

It’s best to only use OOO for periods of prolonged absence

Out-of-office sample messages

All standard email tools, like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail, come with OOO functionality.

You can set an auto-reply time range and choose a default message.

This can, of course, be personalized and tailored to your circumstances

Here are a couple of templates you can use to craft the perfect out-of-office message:

Dear [name], 

Many thanks for getting in touch. I’ll be out of the office between Monday 8th and Friday 12th of May. I’ll respond to your message as soon as I return. If you need any help while I’m away, please contact [name] at [email and phone number] for project updates or [name] at [email and phone number] for general information.


Dear [name], 

Thank you for your email. I am out of the office at the moment and will not be checking my inbox until June 15th. If you have an urgent question, please contact [name] at [email and phone number]. Otherwise, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible after my return.

Communicate better with prompt email responses

In or out of the office, the emails you send say a lot about you.

Whether you can get your message across concisely and in good time can make or break your communications. 

Luckily, PandaDoc is here to help by providing email templates that generate leads.

Take a look to improve your email game today!