This work studies multiscale analyses and characterizations of surface topographies from the engineering and scientific literature with an emphasis on production engineering research and design. It highlights methods that provide strong correlations between topographies and performance or topographies and processes, and methods that can confidently discriminate topographies that were processed or that perform differently. These methods have commonalities in geometric characterizations at certain scales, which are observable with statistics and measurements. It also develops a semantic and theoretical framework and proposes a new system for organizing and designating multiscale analyses. Finally, future possibilities for multiscale analyses are discussed.