first of all, we are currently looking for places in the docs that should be improved so if you spot anything weird or ambiguous please let me know.
When it comes to column-oriented settings I would suggest columns. Not only you can define the data that is loaded but only set up some options, change header names, and attach predefined/custom validator, renderer, and editor. I’ve already sent a request to the Tech Write team to specify what are the possible options for columns https://github.com/handsontable/docs/issues/175 as those are not always the same as those for the instance level https://handsontable.com/docs/8.1.0/Options.html
If you need any specific examples just let me know. I’ll be happy to help.