The method of variably displaying search terms includes continuously displaying the names of categories on a video terminal screen. When the cursor is adjacent a category, one data set or search term is displayed, that search term being one of a plurality of terms in a list associated with the particular category. The user displays another term from the list by actuating a scrolling control key input. To select a desired term and move to the next category, the user actuates a select control key input. Therefore, the display system utilizes only two control inputs to select a plurality of terms for a plurality of categories. One list of terms represents control commands that control, among other things, the output of data from the system. One technique of formulating the list is to obtain the data fields from a particular field, corresponding to the category, from all records in a data base. The retrieved data fields are then used as search terms in this dynamically formed list. The terms can also be grouped in fixed or static lists. A routine is used to segment or subdivide the data base search for the dynamic list or to subdivide the static list.