I'm not sure if it is documented behaviour but sometimes I use a blank in the format of a datawindow column to achieve what you want. For instance for right-aligned number you can use "0 " instead of "0", for left-aligned strings " [general]" works. Of course the will not work if the data is bigger than the column and cut.
Perhaps what stuns me the most is that after many years of PowerBuilder use, I had never tried this. Great tip.