Accelerating Text Communication via Abbreviated Sentence Input

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Computer Science


Typing every character in a text message may require more time or effort than strictly necessary. Skipping spaces or other characters may be able to speed input and reduce a user’s physical input effort. This can be particularly important for people with motor impairments. In a large crowdsourced study, we found workers frequently abbreviated text by omitting mid-word vowels. We designed a recognizer optimized for expanding noisy abbreviated input where users often omit spaces and mid-word vowels. We show using neural language models for selecting conversational-style training text and for rescoring the recognizer’s n-best sentences improved accuracy. On noisy touchscreen data collected from hundreds of users, we found accurate abbreviated input was possible even if a third of characters was omitted. Finally, in a study where users had to dwell for a second on each key, sentence abbreviated input was competitive with a conventional keyboard with word predictions. After practice, users wrote abbreviated sentences at 9.6 words-per-minute versus word input at 9.9 words-per-minute.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)