Lithographic techniques were used to expose edge surfaces in layered molybdenum disulfide single crystals. This microstructuring produced ideal samples for the study of the surface morphology and electronic structure of this catalytically important material. The optical absorption that was measured at mid-gap increased by two orders of magnitude after texturing. This increase resulted from reduced molybdenum at surface defects that are located on edge planes, as shown by photoemission spectroscopy. This information cannot easily be obtained on conventional crystals with predominantly basal plane surfaces.