1. Start with the words that are familiar to you. If your research topic is to discuss the architectural significance of the Palatine Chapel of Charlemagne in Aachen, Germany your possible search terms might be:
Some databases allow you to put the key terms in a word string in one box: Palatine Chapel Charlemagne Aachen
You don't need to include operators such as AND in the case of databases using a Google-like search box. For other databases you are required to separate the concepts and join them with the operator AND. This means that each term must be included in the article in some way as a keyword.
Each of these terms is entered into one of the search boxes on the database search screen.
But this search may not and probably will not yield the best results. There are two things you can do to make your search more precise:
First, determine additional synonyms or related terms. Often these are more specific and use the language of the profession. Such as "Carolingian Architecture" You might even consider joining like terms together in the same line: Carolingian Architecture OR Medieval Architecture.
The second is to pay attention to subject headings when they are available. For example, using WorldCat Research Station you may find that using the inverted subject heading: Architecture, Medieval will give you the results you are looking for.
Boolean searching, knowing the language of the discipline and understanding and using the concept of subject headings will make your searching more productive.
You should know that there are three Boolean operators:
AND--each of the words or terms must be in the record, AND reduces the number of results.
OR--increases the size of the set you are searching.
NOT--excludes a particular word or concept from the search.
Citation management tools can save time and frustration. Zotero is an extremely useful and capable resource that also aids citation (and full-text article) organization.