How to Write an Email About Missing a Deadline

In the professional world, deadlines are crucial. Unfortunately, there may come a time when you must write an email about missing a deadline. This article will guide you through how to write an email about missing a deadline, offering step-by-step guidance and practical advice.

What To Do Before Writing the Email

Before you start writing your email, there are several preparatory steps to take:

  • Acknowledge the Situation: Accept that you’ve missed the deadline and need to communicate this.
  • Gather Information: Understand why the deadline was missed and gather any supporting details.
  • Plan your Message: Decide what you want to communicate in your email.

What to Include In the Email

When crafting your email, it’s crucial to include specific components for clarity and professionalism:

  • Subject Line: Make it clear and concise, indicating the project or task and that there’s a delay.
  • Apology: Admit your mistake and express sincere regret.
  • Reason: Briefly explain why the deadline was missed without sounding defensive.
  • Proposed Solution or New Deadline: Propose a new deadline or solution, showing your commitment to resolving the issue.
  • Request for Understanding: Ask for understanding or forgiveness from the recipient.

Email Templates

Here’s a basic template you can customize:

Subject: Delay in [Project/Task Name] - New Deadline Proposal

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I regret to inform you that there has been a delay in completing [Project/Task Name]. I apologize for this oversight and any inconvenience it may have caused.

The delay occurred due to [Brief Explanation]. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to meet the original deadline.

To rectify this situation, we propose a new deadline of [New Deadline]. We are committed to ensuring that this task is completed by then with the highest level of quality.

I hope you understand the circumstances that led to this delay and accept our sincere apologies. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding.

Best Regards,
[Your Name]

Use Case: Unforeseen Technical Issues

Subject: Unanticipated Technical Challenges with [Project/Task Name] – Revised Deadline Needed

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I must unfortunately report a setback in our progress on [Project/Task Name] due to unforeseen technical issues. I sincerely apologize for the disruption this may cause to your plans.

The challenges arose from [Brief Explanation of Technical Issues], which were unexpected and beyond our control. Despite diligent efforts, these issues have prevented us from adhering to the original timeline.

We are currently working hard to resolve these problems and are targeting [New Proposed Deadline] to have the project/task completed. Rest assured, we are taking all necessary steps to maintain the quality of our work.

Your understanding regarding this matter is greatly appreciated. We are grateful for your patience as we work through these technical difficulties.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

Use Case: Illness or Personal Emergency

Subject: Personal Emergency Impacting [Project/Task Name] – Need to Reschedule Deadline

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am writing to you with a heavy heart to inform you of a personal emergency that has directly affected my ability to complete [Project/Task Name] by the initially agreed upon deadline.

Due to [Brief Explanation of Personal Situation], I am currently unable to fulfill my work commitments as planned. This was an unexpected situation and I am deeply sorry for any inconvenience this delay may cause.

As I navigate these personal circumstances, I propose [New Deadline] as the revised completion date for the project/task. I assure you that I remain dedicated to delivering high-quality results as soon as possible.

Thank you for your empathy and understanding during this challenging time. Your support is invaluable.


[Your Name]

Use Case: Overlooked Workload or Resources Mismanagement

Subject: Revision Required for [Project/Task Name] Deadline Due to Overlooked Constraints

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am reaching out to discuss an important issue that has emerged regarding the deadline for [Project/Task Name]. Please accept my deepest apologies as I recognize the seriousness of this matter.

On reviewing our workflow, it became clear that due to [Brief Explanation of Overlooked Workload/Resources], we will not be able to deliver by the original deadline. This was an oversight on my part, and I take full responsibility for not anticipating these constraints earlier.

To ensure we can provide you with the standard of work you expect from us, we would like to propose a new deadline of [New Deadline]. We are actively reallocating resources to prioritize this project and mitigate any further delays.

I am hopeful for your understanding and am available to discuss any concerns you may have regarding this change in schedule.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

Use Case: Unexpected Team Changes

Subject: Team Changes Affecting [Project/Task Name] Timeline – Adjusted Deadline

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am writing to convey my apologies and inform you of recent team changes that have impacted the timeline for completing [Project/Task Name].

Due to [Brief Explanation of Team Changes], such as departure or reassignment of key team members, we have encountered a slight setback. These changes were unforeseen and have temporarily affected our capacity.

We are taking immediate action to ensure continuity and have set a new target deadline of [New Deadline], allowing us time to onboard and integrate new team members effectively without compromising quality.

Your comprehension and support during this transitional period are much appreciated. Please rest assured that we are fully committed to overcoming these challenges swiftly.

Best wishes,

[Your Name]


Writing an email about missing a deadline can be daunting. However, with honesty, sincerity, and a clear plan of action, it can be handled professionally. The key is not to panic but to communicate effectively and promptly.

To write an email about missing a deadline, acknowledge the situation, apologize sincerely, briefly explain the reason, propose a new deadline or solution, and request understanding.