Can I use the phrase "by the way" in a formal essay? The essay is almost a tech paper (not an article — rather a university paper).

Is that literary language or slang?

closed as off topic by tchrist, Kristina Lopez, kiamlaluno, MetaEd, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Apr 15 '13 at 0:42

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    No offense and no hard feelings, but going by the spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammaticality, and style of the mere three sentences of this simple question, using or not using a particular phrase will be the least of your worries. (Not trying to be a smart-ass, that's how it really is. People plain won't even notice it. They will keep staring at all the other issues they know for a fact have no place in a formal paper.) – RegDwigнt Apr 11 '13 at 17:09
  • OK, what about "grammar point of view" ? – johnmalc Apr 11 '13 at 17:19
  • You should be able to use BTW as much as you could use "Hello" or "Holy cow!" in a technical paper. – Blessed Geek Apr 12 '13 at 1:21
  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. Off topic: writing advice request. Thanks. – MetaEd Apr 13 '13 at 16:07
  • Why can't someone give a categorical answer, if they knew any that is, than make patronizing comments? – Kris Apr 14 '13 at 6:10

Yes, by the way is likely out of place in formal writing. It sounds a little too chatty. In formal writing you put "by-the-way" information or material in a footnote at the bottom of the page or at the end of the paper. You then explain in the footnote, in however much detail is appropriate, what was not strictly relevant to the flow of your paper. A footnote functions at times like a sidebar in a newspaper or magazine.

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    Alternatively, just use the word incidentally. – TRiG Apr 11 '13 at 17:43

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