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Can I say "By the way" in an official document or professional meeting and other important/formal times?

I never saw any film which would include these words.

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How about "Incidentally,..." Would that work? –  user28713 Oct 19 '12 at 14:58
    
By the way is shorter than incidentally, by the way. –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 19 '12 at 17:05
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6 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

No, I wouldn't recommend doing so, as the phrase is informal. There are many formal alternatives you could use to make you sound more professional, some of those are:

it is worth noting
it might also be noted/observed

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you are always saving my ass RiMMER :) Thanks –  genesis Jul 12 '11 at 5:47
    
I'm surprised some posters think it's not 'informal. But I'm sure plenty of OP's potential readers will think it is, so your advice is sound in any case. –  FumbleFingers Jul 12 '11 at 13:38
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The phrase by the way is not especially informal, and you may freely use it in formal situations. However, if you wish to use a variant which is more formal, then you could use a substitute such as:

  • Speaking of which,
  • This brings to mind
  • Apropos

Or one of the phrases mentioned in Rimmer's answer.

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The problem with "by the way" is not that it is informal, it is that in almost every case it is meaningless, unnecessary filler. Leave it out.

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I wouldn't recommend it. It will seem like you are sidetracking, and in important/formal times, you certainly don't want to sidetrack!

I don't know about the film thing, but certainly not in formal settings.

You'd probably have said something like:

Also, there is...

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You can, but it definitely sounds informal. A better way of going about it would be to write the incidental information into the work itself, rather than making it incidental.

Though, if you must go into a tangent, there are transitions that you can pull off without making it seem tangental to the original point. You can use the term "relevantly" if the topic is related and pertinent to the original point you are discussing. Or, if you're offering it as evidence, you can simply say "as evidence", or otherwise indicate the reason you are including this extra information.

Regardless of what phrase you choose to use, it would be a good idea to indicate why you are including the information in the first place, even in just these brief ways. Better to make the viewer think you are expanding your point, rather than drawing away from it to talk about something else.

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I wouldn't, especially if it's likely to go to more than one country — i.e. if it might be read by people who don't understand that "by the way" means "pay extremely close attention! This is the most important point!"

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protected by RegDwigнt Oct 19 '12 at 15:03

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