A while back I worked at Bank of America. My area had a lot of folks for whom English was their second language. I prepared a series of writing tips for them. Here is the first one:
Should you use “like” or “such as”?
- “Like” means “similar to, but not exact”
- “Such as” means “here’s an actual example”
Bad: “…lines of business like consumer banking and small business banking.”
This means something similar to these, but not actually them.
Good: “…lines of business such as consumer banking and small business banking.”
“Consumer” and “small business” are actual examples, the real thing.
So—When you want to give an example of the real thing, use “such as,” even though it’s slightly longer than “like.”