10 Email Templates That Help You Say “Sorry” for the Late Response

What Can I Say Instead Of “Sorry For The Late Reply” On Email?

There are plenty of different ways we can say this in an email. This article will highlight the following to help you:

  • Thank you for your patience
  • I had hoped to respond sooner, but
  • My apologies for the delayed response
  • So sorry for the late response
  • I was looking through my drafts and realized I did not send this
  • Sorry for making you wait on this reply
  • I hope you weren’t waiting for too long
The preferred version is “thank you for your patie

The preferred version is “thank you for your patience.” This phrase works well because it takes “sorry” away, which can sometimes have negative connotations. Now, we say “thank you” to make the message feel more positive from the start, which helps when delivering emails.

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Maybe You Don’t Have to Say You’re Sorry

Of course, not every late email response requires an apology. If a casual acquaintance reached out to network but you got too busy with more urgent matters to respond, you may not need to apologize. Thanking the sender for reaching out and expressing your interest in connecting is good enough if you’re responding days or even weeks later. You may even get away with acknowledging the lapsed time, with something along the lines of:Thanks so much for reaching out a few weeks ago! If you’re still interested in connecting over coffee, I’m available on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Do either of those work for you? Can’t wait to hear about your [current project/position/company] when we meet up.

Make it clear that you care

Not everything that lands in your inbox requires a reply, like, ever. Seriously. Sometimes though, even if it’s not essential, a laggy response is better than none at all.

Take the example of a former client or colleague who saw your new job title and took a few seconds to dash off a kind congratulatory note. If you didn’t respond at the very moment that email arrived, it’s nothing to feel guilty over. But if you never follow up, you might end up kicking yourself months later, whenever you need to refer a contact to them, or have a favor to ask. Try something like this:

Thank you so much for your thoughtful note last month! Also, my apologies for the slow reply; transitioning into this new role has been a little overwhelming, but I’m excited.

By the way, I recall you mentioning plans to launch a new campaign in the next few months—How’s that going? I’d love to hear more about it next time we get a chance to catch up…

That last part intentionally turns the interest back toward the person who wrote to you, since they took the time send their congratulations. After all, you don’t want your message back to read as wholly self-involved and oblivious, right?

“I’d Hoped to Reply Sooner, But I’m Afraid I Have Some Bad News”

Maybe your procrastination was really a secret hope that the situation would dissipate into the ether so you would never have to respond at all. Sometimes an unanswered email requires a reply you don’t have the stomach to give. Either you have to tell someone a project has fallen apart or inform a job candidate that the position has been filled by someone else. Either way, the bad news has to be given and it has to be given by you. If you left someone in suspense and now have to let them down, here’s how to do it kindly:Sorry for the delayed response. I’d hoped to reply sooner, but I’m afraid I have some bad news. [You didn’t get the job/We’ve decided not to go through with X project]. However, I had high hopes for [bringing you on/seeing this project come to life], and so I will definitely keep you in mind if something changes in the near future. Thank you so much for your patience and I hope our paths cross again.Sorry for the late reply—things have finally settled down on my end. Unfortunately, since we last spoke, the company has decided [to go with another agency, to bring our efforts in-house, to postpone hiring for the role]. We really appreciate getting the chance to speak with you and learning how you could help us with X project. I’d love to keep in touch in case another opportunity comes up in the future.My sincerest apologies for the slow response. I hope things have been well with you since we last spoke! After thinking it over, our team doesn’t think that this will work out for the current [role, project]—we’re looking for [someone who can come into the office, an agency that can accommodate X]. However, we have [an opening for X role, a need for X service]. Is this something you’re open to exploring with us?

5 email templates to use when apologizing for a late response

Apology Email Template #1: General apology email

First, it’s helpful to have a jumping-off point with a general template you can adapt to whatever situation arises. 

Dear [name],

First, I just want to say I apologize for being so late in getting back to you. I meant to respond right away and only just realized I never replied.

I love your idea and have attached more information about how I think I can help. If there’s anything else I can provide, or if you’d like to schedule a call, please do let me know. 

Thank you for your initial inquiry and again I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. 

Best wishes,

[your name]

Apology Email Template #2: Turning someone down

Let’s say a friend or colleague emailed you asking for your assistance or participation in something, whether joining an escape room team or a workplace committee. You may know right away you don’t want to do it, and it’s easy to put off responding for fear of how they’ll react. Here’s an email example for this scenario.

Dear [name],

First of all, I want to apologize for my delay in replying to your request. Thank you for thinking of me for the opportunity, but unfortunately I won’t be able to participate this time around. My workload has been particularly heavy, and I don’t have much extra time right now. But I’ll let you know if anything changes.

Thank you again and please excuse my late reply. 

Best regards,

[your name]

Apology Email Template #3: Responding to news

Perhaps a colleague emailed to share exciting news or information with you. Maybe they got a promotion or reached an important milestone. While you may have been ecstatic for them when you got the email, taking a long time to reply can make it seem like you don’t really care about their accomplishment. Here’s what to say. 

Dear [name],

I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your email. As soon as I saw the news I was thrilled for you—congratulations! I simply let my response slip through the cracks, so please excuse my delay. 

I’m so glad you decided to share the news with me, and I look forward to seeing what else you’ll be accomplishing in this new role! If I can support you in any way, let me know.

Best wishes,

[your name]

Apology Email Template #4: You had to take time to consider the request

Another common scenario is that you simply needed more time to respond to an email and have been thinking over someone’s request. While it’s best practice to respond right away and let them know you’ll get back to them soon, sometimes we forget to send that courtesy note. Here’s an example email for this case.

Dear [name],

I apologize for my late reply to your email. I wanted to be sure I carefully considered the ask before responding, and I had to pull together some information to provide everything you requested. Attached please find my response and all applicable details. Do let me know if you have any questions or require anything further to move forward. 

Sorry again for the delay!

Best regards,

[your name]

Apology Email Template #5: You were asked to send something

It can give you a sinking feeling to discover that you never sent a requested document, and now it’s been weeks. But, it happens. And one simple email can hopefully resolve any hard feelings or hold-ups.

Dear [name],

I just noticed that I never responded to your email, and I’m so sorry for the oversight. Attached is the document you requested, and I hope it’s not too late. 

Please excuse my delay and let me know if you have any further questions. I’m also happy to get on a phone call to discuss. 

Best wishes,

[your name]

Sorry for the late reply: four great examples and use cases

Less is often more when it comes to apologizing for a late email reply. In some cases, it’s worth explaining your reasons. In others, it’s better to get straight to the point.

Example 1: keep it short

In most cases, a simple acknowledgment of the delay is sufficient. It’s enough to show the recipient that you care and understand you caused a delay or an inconvenience. 

Dear …, 

Let me start by apologizing for my late reply. 

I really appreciate the work and thought you put into your proposal. Below are comments and suggestions, which I hope you will find helpful. Please do let me know if you would like to schedule a call to discuss them. 

Point 1…

Point 2…

Point X…

Once again, apologies for the late response, and I look forward to seeing the finished project. 

Best wishes, 

With the apology out of the way, you can get straight to the point. Make sure you address any questions the sender asked so that your delayed reply is complete. 

Most people will forgive a short delay but forcing them to follow up on incomplete answers can lead to a permanently damaged relationship.

Example 2: explain your reasons

On rare occasions, it is worth going into greater detail to explain the delay. Whether you choose this option over a simple, short apology depends on your relationship with the sender and the circumstances that caused the delay. 

If you have a close working relationship with the sender, sharing your reasons for the late email response can strengthen that connection. 

Dear …, 

Let me start by apologizing for my late reply. We experienced server problems over the past couple of days which created a bit of an “all hands on deck” situation. Luckily, we secured all data and deployed our backup strategy. 

With servers back on track, I would like to say I really appreciate the work and thought you put into your proposal. Below are comments and suggestions, which I hope you will find helpful. Please do let me know if you would like to schedule a call to discuss them. 

Point 1…

Point 2…

Point X…

Once again, apologies for the late response, and I look forward to seeing the finished project. 

Best wishes, 

This option needs to be carefully considered. You want to avoid divulging too much information or causing additional concern, especially in a professional environment. If in doubt, choose a brief, simple apology.

Just as in our first example, once the apology is made focus on replying to each item the sender raised. 

Example 3: saying no

Are you putting off your response because you know the customer won’t like what you have to say and you don’t want to upset them? Saying no is never easy, especially if you know how valued that customer is and can’t afford to lose them. 

The problem is, delaying your response will not make it easier for the recipient. In fact, they are probably getting more worried every day they don’t hear from you.

Perhaps you have suggestions that may improve the situation but not necessarily fix it. Perhaps your ‘no’ is more of a ‘not right now’. It is worth letting the sender know that. 

Dear …, 

Let me start by apologizing for my late reply. 

As you know, we value your product feedback and depend on it to help us build our product road map.

After spending the week reviewing your suggestions internally with the development team and although we are not able to do X at the moment we did find a great alternative solution that will ensure the visibility your team needs to achieve X. 

Could we set up a meeting this week to show you exactly how?

Once again, apologies for the late response, and I look forward to partnering alongside you through this company project.

Best wishes, 

Done well, this delayed email response not only deals with the lateness quickly but also shows how much you value them as a customer and that you are working to provide a thoughtful solution.

Example 4: extremely late replies

We’ve all been there. You read an email, you didn’t reply straight away but also forgot to schedule a reply or mark it as unread, and it simply dropped off your screen. 

You forgot all about it. Since then, weeks and months have gone by. Finally, you are clearing out your inbox – and there it is: that two-month-old email asking important questions. Now, you could consider putting off your reply until Email Debt Forgiveness Day. But chances are you won’t be able to forget about it now. So here is one way to reply: 

Dear …, 

Apologies! That really is all I can say for my extremely late reply. 

I did read your email when it arrived but managed to let it slip off my screen without replying. With so much time gone by, can I ask if you still need answers to your questions? 

I would be delighted to help. Please do let me know if there is anything you require. If it is easier, we can also schedule a call at a convenient time.  

Once again, apologies, and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Best wishes, 

This sorry for the late response email starts a bit more emotionally to highlight just how sorry the sender is. It will work best when there is a strong (working) relationship between the two parties. Here is a more formal alternative:

Dear …, 

Please accept my sincere apologies for this late reply to your email. 

With so much time gone by, can I ask if you still need answers to your questions? 

I would be delighted to help. Please do let me know if there is anything you require. If it is easier, we can also schedule a call at a convenient time.  

Once again, apologies, and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Best wishes, 

This version goes back to the idea of keeping the apology short but genuine and then moving on to the actual subject.

Depending on how much time has passed since the original email was sent, it is preferable to ask whether the information is still required. Whilst it does force the original sender to reply, it also avoids more wasted time and effort on both sides. 

Best Examples of Apologizing for a Delayed Email Response

If you’re not sure how to format your apology email, we’ve put together a few sample emails that you can use as a template if you find yourself in the position of needing to write an overdue email response.

  1. Sorry for the delay. One of the best and most common ways of responding to an overdue email is by clearly communicating your sincere apologies for the delay and letting the receiving party know how very sorry you are for any inconvenience this may have caused.

    Instead of offering excuses or explanations, this method of responding to a late email and writing a letter of apology allows you to take responsibility, make amends, and get back on track when it comes to sending and receiving business emails.

    Here’s a great sample email offering sincere apologies for a late reply:

    Dear Angela, I am sorry for the delay in response, and I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Unfortunately, I was researching a new promotion idea and unintentionally overlooked responding to you right away. I reviewed your research and am excited about launching this new advertisement and marketing campaign. I attached some additional information I think could be useful when planning outreach events and social media promos. I would appreciate it if we could arrange a meeting for later this week to discuss the project and review our projected campaign timeline. Let me know your availability, and I would be happy to organize it. I am looking forward to working with you on this project. Going forward, please don’t hesitate to reach me on my cell phone should any urgent matters arise. Again, please accept my apologies for the overdue reply. I assure you, it will not happen again. Best wishes, Kevin

  2. Thank you for your patience. Even if you don’t want to explicitly say “I’m sorry” in your delayed email response, it’s still important to take accountability and full responsibility for your tardy reply and recognize the inconvenience it may have caused.

    Thanking someone for their patience is a great way to recognize a late email response without coming off as rude or insincere. If you want to take accountability for getting back to someone late without directly apologizing, this is a great way to do it:

    Dear Austin, Thank you for your patience, I have just transitioned to a new role in the company, and your email inadvertently got lost in my inbox. I hope the delay has not inconvenienced you. I’m so excited to hear that the Heart Association’s golf fundraiser is back on for this year. I would love to design the invites. Attached, I have included a few drafts I have been working on for your event — a save the date, a formal invitation, and an event program. Please review the documents at your earliest convenience and let me know what you think. Once I hear back from you, I’ll go ahead and start making revisions and final edits so we can get these sent out to your constituents as soon as possible. Really looking forward to working together again, and, as always, don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions or concerns. Best Wishes, Kelly

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