Document authoring involves a lengthy revision process, marked by individual edits that are frequently linked to comments. Modeling the relationship between edits and comments leads to a better understanding of document evolution, potentially benefiting applications such as content summarization, and task triaging. Prior work on understanding revisions has primarily focused on classifying edit intents, but falling short of a deeper understanding of the nature of these edits. In this paper, we present explore the challenge of describing an edit at two levels: identifying the edit intent, and describing the edit using free-form text. We begin by defining a taxonomy of general edit intents and introduce a new dataset of full revision histories of Wikipedia pages, annotated with each revision’s edit intent. Using this dataset, we train a classifier that achieves a 90% accuracy in identifying edit intent. We use this classifier to train a distantly-supervised model that generates a high-level description of a revision in free-form text. Our experimental results show that incorporating edit intent information aids in generating better edit descriptions. We establish a set of baselines for the edit description task, achieving a best score of 28 ROUGE, thus demonstrating the effectiveness of our layered approach to edit understanding.