“Side note”: Meaning & alternatives + Example sentences

There are times when talking to your friend, loved one or even a colleague, you look for ways to tie everything you have said together. This helps the person on the other end easily follow the conversation and what you mean. This is one of the reasons why we say words such as because. So, and however. Every one of the words highlighted show that there is a link between what you have just said and what you are about to say.

Additionally, you want to also prioritize the information give to that person. It makes perfect sense, considering that some pieces of information are much more relevant or important than others. It is also for this reason we utilize expressions and words such as “by the way”, “incidentally” and of course “side note”.

What does “Side note” mean?

“Side note” simply put is a different way to express incidentally, by the way or parenthetically. What this means is that it is a word that can be used to announce whatever it is you are saying. Showing that it does have a link to what was said prior, but it doesn’t hold the same importance.

Where does “Side note” originate from?

Have you ever read an academic book or an editor’s copy of a book? If so, you will discover that numerous authors write notes either at the end of the chapters or just underneath the section at the bottom. These notes sometimes relate to the main body of text, however, they aren’t really that important to have them amongst the main text or information.

This usually happens when the author believes adding these notes could ruin the flow of the main text or posed a threat to its logic. That is why they felt it was better to place their explanations somewhere else.

Another example would be you reading an academic paper and writing down a couple of notes to help you better understand what you have just read. Most times, you will write those notes within the margins of the book. It is from this that the expression “side note” emanates. Side notes are notes written on the side margins. They are generally smaller compared to the main body of text.

“Side note” can help you switch topics. When used at the start of a sentence, it can act like a sort of announcement, letting you know that whatever you are saying, might be on a different tangent to what was already being said.

Note, it should always be used at the start of a sentence. For instance, if you say “I think we should call it a day side note” it would sound extremely strange. However, if you said “side note, I think we should call it a day” you will convey your opinion and also letting the other person know what you are saying might diverge from the initial conversation.

2 examples of how to use “Side note” in a sentence

Using “Side note” to highlight pertinent and related information

This is basically the original meaning or usage of “side note” one example is:

“I hope you know the fireworks start by 8 tonight. We have to get there early if we want to find great spots to watch them. Side note don’t forget to pack the baby’s ear plugs. The fireworks are great for us, but they can be quite loud for her”.

The example above, highlights what the main part of the sentence is and that is to leave early to watch the fireworks. The second part isn’t as important but is still related to the main point and that is to bring earplugs for the baby.

This goes to show that “side note” is better served at the start of the diverging sentence.

Using “Side note” to highlight or change the meaning of a sentence

This is another, lesser used example of side note. This is because it is extremely specific. Basically, you can use “side note” and its more formal brother “on a side note” to change some verbs.

For instance, you could say something like “the bosses kept inferring on a side note, completely forgetting that there were bigger fish to fry”.

In the example above, when you use “side note” or “on a side note” you are saying that your bosses are concentrating on what really is a fringe issue, instead of concentrating on more pressing matters at hand.

This instance emphasizes what the problem is and where the focus should really be. That being said, it isn’t really used, especially not in written form as it can cause a lot of confusion to the reader. Trying to decipher what it is the speaker meant can mean you too focus on the wrong issue at hand.

Alternatives to saying “Side note”

“Second thought”

This means just as it seems, when you have another thought that differs from what the first sentence is. It is typically used when you want to circule back to what you’ve just said. Perhaps, you wanted to do something, you could say “on a second thought” to show that you have changed your mind.

Person A: You’re still coming to the festival right?

Person B: On a second thought, think I might give it a rain check. Got a lot to get to later on.


“I’ll take a tuna sandwich. Actually, on second thought, I’ll have the soup.”

It can also be used to signify that what you are about to say has nothing to do with your previous thought.

“On second thought, maybe you should sell your house and move into an apartment. On second thought, let’s not go to a movie.”