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.

  • 3
    How about "Incidentally,..." Would that work?
    – user28713
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 14:58
  • By the way is shorter than incidentally, by the way. Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 17:05
  • Incidentally matches the meaning most closely to "By the way" while largely shedding the (in my opinion unfair) casual reputation of "By the Way". Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:14

6 Answers 6


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

  • 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. Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 13:38

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.


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.

  • I use it to indicate a topic change, otherwise it can seem confusing or like the text doesn't fit together. I came to this page because I want to include it in a formal email, if it were meaningless filler then I would indeed just have left it out and not bothered looking for an alternative. Not sure it's a good recommendation to just remove it without qualification.
    – Luc
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 12:18

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.


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...


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!"

  • 1
    How does it mean it's the most important thing? "I won the lottery today! Oh, by the way, your shoe is untied." Or "By the way, I like your new hair."
    – MorganFR
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 11:51
  • What you are stating is certainly and utterly false. Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 13:06
  • Good luck in your careers, you two. When your manager says "Oh, by the way..." you just go right on ahead and ignore him. Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 7:11

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.