As Chinese we may tend to associate the word 'calligraphy' with the brushstrokes of Chinese characters, but the word - which means 'beautiful handwriting' - also includes Western writing. Since 1990 there has been an exhibition every year to promote the art of Western handwriting in Hong Kong. It is presented by the Alpha Beta Club (ABC), also known as the Hong Kong Society of Western Calligraphy. The 'Joy to the Words Calligraphy Exhibition' was held at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Western calligraphy is the art of elaborate designs of letter forms, the beauty of brushstrokes, and due attention to overall composition. Western calligraphy has a long history. It is said to have originated in the ancient Christian monasteries where monks laboured with love on manuscripts, copying out pages from the scriptures. There are some basic differences between Chinese and Western calligraphy. According to ABC spokesman Cynthia Tsang Chiu-wai, Chinese calligraphy is usually done with ink, while Western calligraphy can use an assortment of writing materials, such as gouache, ink, watercolours and colour pens. Apart from the letters, Western calligraphy also focuses on the overall design of a piece of writing. In Western eyes, the frame is part of the work, and has an effect on the way the calligraphy is perceived. 'In Hong Kong many young people are interested in Chinese calligraphy, which is also an HKCEE subject. But overseas, Western calligraphy is mostly appreciated by the older generation, and usually by academics,' said Brenda Ching Man-wah, an ABC member. 'In Hong Kong, Western calligraphy skills are not as developed as they are abroad, where such work can be highly creative and innovative,' Ms Ching said. In an attempt to raise interest in Western calligraphy in Hong Kong, the ABC organised an envelope design competition, which had an enthusiastic response. The best designed envelopes were also on display at the exhibition. Besides publishing a newsletter three times a year, the ABC is also maintains links with Western calligraphy groups in other countries such as Japan and Canada.