I am puzzled about the issues of tenses in report writing:

I am doing a training report which describes what I did over the last three months. Normally, I use past tense to in the report because what I mentioned in the report "has happened"

However, there is a situation which is difficult for me to decide what tense should be used. For instance, if there was a construction project two months ago, the client was, say XX. In my report, if I want to introduce this client, my training advisor suggested that I need to use present tense, that is, the client is XX. However, the project has finished for a month and the contractual relationship has gone so that the company is no longer my client. I don’t understand why I need to use present tense.

However, if the project is still ongoing when I write the report, do I need to use present tense?
I think an example of what you are writing would be useful.
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Thanks for your reply.

Here are two paragraphs extracted from my report:


For the RC portal frame bridge, it was designed to carry a track to be reinstated and is located in between Parracombe and Woody Bay Stations at 15m 48ch. This bridge is on BEZ line but the railway line has been abandoned for a long time. The client is Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Company and the value of this project was £10000.

The bridge was not very big, about 29m long and 8m wide. Because of limitation on the lifting capacity of a crane, the whole structure was longitudinally divided into four identical precast units. The middle two portal frames were designed to carry the track and the remaining two to be put on both sides to carry the walkways. Although this project was not very big, it was quite challenging: First, it was the first time I had had an opportunity to put the knowledge on paper into practice. Secondly, that bridge was not a simply supported beam but an indeterminate structure with two legs coming down to the base supports. The major difficulty I encountered was how to impose the temperature load from the temperature difference across the bridge deck since most reference books just deal with loading is applied to straight continuous beams but seldom to integral or portal frame bridges. In addition, this bridge was not the kind of prestressed girder as normally found in vehicular bridges, cracks should be assumed to exist; thus, the method, dealing with the uncracked sections, given in most reference books was not applicable to this case. Fortunately, I managed to find a reference book Concrete Bridge Design To BS 5400, Construction Press, London and New York which clearly explained how to solve this type of problem. For the temperature difference load problem in portal frame, I just modified the method with care.


Obviously, past tense should be used if an action we refer to happened in the past.

However, if I want to refer to something which is true and correct in the past, at present and in the future in a report, for example, most reference book was not applicable to this case (shown above). Do I need to use "was"?

Further, there is another example: If I know something will happen tomorrow, what tense should be used in a report which will be done next week. For example, Last week, I knew it will/would happen. Which one is correct

What tense do I use when writing a report

depends on what you want to say. Can you show us a paragraph, please?

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