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Also known as Freestyle

Surface embroidery, also known as freestyle embroidery, is a catch-all term which refers to any technique which uses standard embroidery threads, is not a counted thread technique and does not alter the warp or weft of the fabric. 

It can be worked on any fabric, although if worked on an evenweave fabric, the weave is ignored with regard to the placing of the needle.  Designs are normally drawn onto the fabric, or they can be worked by eye.

This means that the following techniques would not be considered surface embroidery:
Counted thread
Drawn thread
Pulled thread
Ribbon work

Surface Stitches

Arrowhead stitch Back stitch Back stitch trellis Back-stitched chain stitch Battlement couching Blanket stitch Block shading Braid stitch Brick stitch Bullion knot Burden stitch Buttonhole bars Buttonhole scallops Buttonhole stitch Buttonhole wheels Cable chain stitch Cable stitch Chain stitch Chequered chain stitch Chevron stem stitch Chevron stitch Chinese knot Closed buttonhole stitch Closed feather stitch Closed fly stitch Closed herringbone stitch Cloud filling stitch Colonial knot Coral stitch Couched herringbone stitch Couching Cretan open filling stitch Cretan stitch (closed) Cretan stitch (open) Cross bar filling trellis Cross bar with link trellis Cross stitch Crossed buttonhole stitch Detached chain stitch Detached wheatear stitch Detached woven picot Diamond stitch Dot stitch Double back stitch Double chain stitch Double feather stitch Double herringbone stitch Double running stitch Ermine stitch Eyelet stitch Fan (pattern) Feather stitch Feathered chain stitch Fern stitch Finishing stitch Fishbone stitch Flat stitch Fly stitch Fly stitch filling French knot Heavy chain stitch Herringbone ladder filling stitch Herringbone stitch Holbein stitch Holding stitch Interlaced herringbone band Interlaced herringbone stitch Knotted buttonhole stitch Knotted pearl stitch Laced herringbone stitch Ladder stitch (surface) Laid work Leaf stitch (surface) Long and short blanket stitch Long and short stitch Long-tailed daisy stitch Loop stitch Marking cross stitch Mountmellick stitch Open chain stitch Outline stitch Overcast stitch Padded satin stitch (laid work padding) Padded satin stitch (split stitch padding) Pearl Stitch Pearl stitch (variation) Pekinese stitch Pistil stitch Plunging Point a la Minute Point russe Portuguese knotted stem stitch Quaker stitch Raised chain band stitch Raised fishbone stitch Raised leaf stitch Raised stem band stitch Reverse chain stitch Romanian couching Running stitch Satin stitch Seeding stitch Shisha stitch (variation 1) Shisha stitch (variation 2) Shisha stitch (variation 3) Single feather stitch Slanted satin stitch Small eyelet Split stitch Stab stitch Star eyelet stitch Stem stitch Straight stitch Tete-de-boeuf stitch Thorn stitch Threaded back stitch Threaded chain stitch Threaded herringbone stitch Tied herringbone stitch Trellis Turkey rug stitch Turned satin stitch Two-sided cross stitch Up and down blanket stitch Van Dyke stitch Wave stitch Whip stitch Whipped back stitch Whipped blanket stitch Whipped chain stitch Whipped running stitch Whipped stem stitch Whipped wheel Woven picot Woven wheel