I am trying to work out how to specify the column view from the standard 
org-agenda-list command.  The manual is confusing me, and I can see some of the 
variables have changed in commit cc020dbe4d .  The documentation only seems to 
partially address this and does not fit with the documentation of the variables 
themselves.  Please see below for more details.

This manual is for Org version 9.2.
Emacs  : GNU Emacs 26.2 (build 1, x86_64-apple-darwin18.5.0, Carbon Version 158 
AppKit 1671.4)
 of 2019-04-14
Package: Org mode version 9.2.5 (9.2.5-1-gff6508-elpaplus @ 

In the info pages under Agenda Views > Agenda Column View point 1. says

  1. Org needs to make a decision which columns format to use.  Since
     the entries in the agenda are collected from different files, and
     different files may have different columns formats, this is a
     non-trivial problem.  Org first checks if the variable
     ‘org-overriding-columns-format’ is currently set, and if so, takes
     the format from there.  Otherwise it takes the format associated
     with the first item in the agenda, or, if that item does not have a
     specific format (defined in a property, or in its file), it uses

However, it does not say how to set org-overriding-columns-format.    The 
documentation for this variable gives

When set, overrides any other format definition for the agenda.
Don’t set this, this is meant for dynamic scoping.  Set
‘org-local-columns-format’ instead.

and the documentation for org-local-columns-format says

When set, overrides any other format definition for the agenda.
This can be set as a buffer local value to avoid interfering with
dynamic scoping for ‘org-overriding-columns-format’.

Andrew Swann | Associate Professor | Tel +45 871 55767 | sw...@math.au.dk | 
http://home.math.au.dk/swann/ | Department of Mathematics, Aarhus University, 
Ny Munkegade 118, Bldg 1530, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark | Dept +45 871 50000 | 
Fax +45 8613 1769

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