Herbert Little, 80, a former news reporter and editor and a retired writer and editor for the Voice of America, died Monday at the Wisconsin Avenue Nursing Home after a heart attack.

Mr. Little joined Voice of America in 1955 as a news writer and editor and was an assistant division chief when he retired in 1970.

He began his career in 1921 with United Press in Madison, Wis, He worked in Des Moines and St. Louis before transferring to the United Press Washington bureau in 1924, where he covered the Supreme Court, the Teapot Dome trials and the marriage of H.L. Mencken. He also wrote for the American Mercury.

From 1932-38, he was a writer and managing editor of the Scripps-Howard News Alliance here. He then worked for the National Youth Administration, a New Deal agency. During World War II, he worked for the Office of Production Management, the War Production Board, the Office of War Information and the Office of Price Administration.

After the war, Mr. Little was director of information for the Labor Department for several years and a free-lance magazine writer for the New Republic and other publications.

He lived in Arlington and was a member of the National Press Club, the American Newspaper Guild and the American Federation of Government Employees.

Mr. Little's first marriage to Ruby Black, a reporter and biographer of Eleanor Roosevelt, ended in divorce. His second wife, the former Margaret Thayer, died in 1977.

Survivors include a daughter from his first marriage, Cornelia Jane Motheral of Arlington, and a grandson.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Washington Urban League.