A customer recently asked us: “I have one question about tense, just wonder that when explaining figures or tables what is the correct tense to use? Sometimes, I have seen an author use the present simple tense, some use the past tense.” Our reply was:
If your text is commenting on or analysing any table, figure or graphic the present simple is the verb to use.
Eg “Table 1 shows bananas are the most popular fruit.” However if there are dates in the table and you wish to mention them you should mix present and past as in: “Table 1 shows that in 2009 bananas were the most popular fruit but in 2010 apples became more popular” Sometimes the future is needed: “Table 1 shows bananas are the most popular fruit however, it is predicted in 2013 apples will be more popular”
Titles are always present simple: Table 1: The most popular fruit by year
Until next time.