In a series of papers van den Bergh [191, 192, 194] suggested that the coherence of the spiral structure could be used to infer the intrinsic luminosity of spiral galaxies. Systems with well-developed global spiral structure are of Type I (supergiants) while those with ragged ill-defined spiral arms are of Type V (dwarfs), as in the stellar luminosity-class nomenclature. The basic criteria of this DDO-classification (DDO = David Dunlap Observatory) are outlined in the table below.
Calibrations of the absolute magnitudes of Sc galaxies as a function of luminosity class are controversial; see discussions in  and . de Vaucouleurs  has also discussed this problem, but in terms of his Luminosity Index which is a simple average of his stage and the DDO luminosity class. The absolute magnitudes of Sb galaxies as a function of luminosity class have been recently discussed in . Irregular galaxies may be roughly typed according to intrinsic luminosity [190, 194] through Holmberg's  relation between absolute magnitude and apparent surface brightness. Similarly, giant ellipticals have a higher mean surface brightness than dwarf ellipticals . In addition, though, ellipticals show a correlation of their luminosity with colour [11, 28] in the sense that giant ellipticals are redder than their dwarf counterparts.
|Sc I||These supergiant galaxies are characterized by long well-developed arms of relatively high-surface-brightness.||M
|Sc II||The spiral structure of these bright giant galaxies is less well developed as compared to Sc I galaxies.||NGC
|Sc III||Short patchy arms extend from a fairly high-surface-brightness main body.||NGC 2403|
|S IV||Outer regions give only a hint of spiral structure emanating from a relatively low-surface-brightness disk.||NGC
|S V||Dwarf spirals; only a hint of spiral structure is seen in these low-surface-brightness objects.||DDO 122|