To define a column format for an entire file, use a line like:
#+COLUMNS: %25ITEM %TAGS %PRIORITY %TODO
To specify a format that only applies to a specific tree, add a ‘COLUMNS’ property to the top node of that tree, for example:
** Top node for columns view :PROPERTIES: :COLUMNS: %25ITEM %TAGS %PRIORITY %TODO :END:
If a ‘COLUMNS’ property is present in an entry, it defines columns for the entry itself, and for the entire subtree below it. Since the column definition is part of the hierarchical structure of the document, you can define columns on level 1 that are general enough for all sublevels, and more specific columns further down, when you edit a deeper part of the tree.