Although there have been quite a number of theoretical and practical studies where axiomatic design (AD) principles have been used in the last few years, there is a lack of a comprehensive literature survey which evaluates and classifies these papers. This study provides a recognizable overview of literature on AD principles from the past 20 years and introduces a novel classification scheme covering 63 papers. Each article was classified into four main groups, namely the type of the axiom, the application area, the method, and the evaluation type. Findings of our paper indicate that most of the studies in the literature are application-based papers which use typically the independence axiom. While product design is put forward in the application area, the crisp approach is widely used as an evaluation type. A rise in the fuzzy evaluation based research studies using the information axiom for multi-attribute decision making problems has also been noticed. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.